French investigators charged Stellantis NV’s Peugeot and Citroen subsidiaries over allegedly defrauding consumers with diesel engines in a broadening crackdown on carmakers that has already ensnared Renault SA and Volkswagen AG.
The two marques, which became part of Stellantis when PSA Group merged with Fiat Chrysler early this year, must pay a combined €18m in bail and provide two bank guarantees worth a total of €55m.
The charges against Citroen were announced in a statement yesterday, a day after those pressed against Peugeot. Both said they were in the process of assessing their defence options.
Stellantis added on Wednesday that its Fiat Chrysler subsidiary will face questioning in the same case in July. The disclosures follow VW and Renault’s announcements this week of charges over similar accusations.
The French charges spring from judicial investigations opened over four years ago, right around the time when VW settled criminal and civil complaints with the US related to its use of illegal devices to circumvent emissions tests with diesel vehicles.
The accusations could prove a further distraction from efforts by chief executive officer Carlos Tavares to integrate PSA and Fiat into one of the top global carmakers. Since the two combined in January, he has had to deal with the global semiconductor supply crisis impeding production across the industry.
Both Peugeot and Citroen face allegations of consumer fraud in connection with the sale of Euro 5 diesel vehicles in France between 2009 and 2015, according to their statements.
In France, investigative magistrates can charge companies or individuals when there are “serious or consistent” clues showing likely involvement. They can then decide whether to refer a case to trial but aren’t involved after that stage.