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1.9m Peugeot and Citroen cars 'may be programmed to trick diesel emission tests'

As many as 1.9 million Peugeot and Citroen cars may have engines designed to trick diesel emissions tests, according to a report.

Le Monde newspaper said PSA Group could face fines of up to 5 billion euros (£4.5 billion) for allegedly using special devices that programmed engines to vary emissions levels when they were being tested.

The report prompted a decline in the company's share price in Paris.

PSA denied wrongdoing and threatened to file a complaint over the report, citing extensively from a document from French consumer fraud agency DGCCRF, which has been investigating several car brands sold in France since Volkswagen was found in 2015 to have cheated on US emissions tests.

PSA said in a statement that it complies with all regulations and "its vehicles have never been equipped with software or systems" allowing it to deceive tests.

According to Le Monde, PSA developed a strategy to equip its engines with so-called defeat devices that would reduce the level of nitrogen oxide emissions during testing, and allow them to rise when cars are on the road.

The report said 1.9 million Peugeot and Citroen cars made between 2009 and 2015 were affected - and that the company sought to continue the strategy in cars made after 2015 but with the defeat devices less noticeable.

PSA said it had not been contacted by judicial authorities and it was "outraged" to see information about the investigation leaked to outsiders while the company has not seen the document in question.

It is now up to investigating judges with the public health arm of the Paris prosecutor's office to determine whether to send the company to trial, along with other car makers being scrutinised.

The prosecutor's office and DGCCRF refused to comment on the news report, citing the rules on secrecy of ongoing investigations.

AP

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