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Renault responds to whistle-blower claim

29 March 2007

Renault has refuted claims that its putting customers' lives at risk, following a claim from an ex-employee that the bonnet catch on previous-generation Clios and current Clio Campus models is poorly designed.

Former Renault UK press manager Graeme Holt said that Renault would not recall the Clio to rectify the issue because of the huge numbers of cars invloved - over half a million in the UK. BBC's Watchdog programme said it had been contacted by 1000 Clio owners complaining of a faulty catch.

However, the company stated:

Renault UK is a responsible manufacturer and prides itself on safety with more five-star Euro NCAP rated cars than any other manufacturer. The safety of its customers is of paramount importance to Renault UK.

Without question, Renault conforms to all strict legal procedures outlined for the motor industry. This includes incidents of drivers reporting that the bonnet of their Clio II has opened whilst the car was being driven.

Renault has liaised fully with the UK government enforcement agency, the Vehicle and Operator Service Agency (VOSA), on the issue and both Renault and VOSA have concluded that the bonnet catch mechanism on the Clio II has no design or construction defect.

Since Watchdog's original broadcast, Renault has monitored and analysed every case we have received and a dedicated Task Force of more than 30 of Renault’s worldwide experts has investigated this issue, including carrying out vehicle inspections. VOSA has been kept fully informed throughout.

In co-operation with the relevant authorities including the DVLA, Renault is writing to all Clio II owners, more than 400,000 people, inviting them into their nearest Renault dealership, where the opening and closing mechanisms of the bonnet will be checked to ensure the correct maintenance is being undertaken. If poor maintenance is detected, the appropriate corrective action will be carried out at no cost to the customer as a gesture of goodwill.

Renault refutes BBC Watchdog claim that it is 'putting lives at risk'

Renault has found no construction or design defect with the bonnet catch mechanism of the Clio II. Renault is a responsible manufacturer. To say we would endanger our customers is categorically untrue. We are recalling all Clio II owners into the Renault network as part of our reassurance plan.

The bonnet catch mechanism of the Clio II is safe, reliable and fit for purpose providing the vehicle is maintained correctly and the bonnet is closed as prescribed.

This issue is a maintenance issue.

Renault refutes BBC Watchdog's whistle-blower 'cover-up' claim

There is no 'cover-up'. Renault always takes any customer complaint extremely seriously and we have escalated reports of this issue to the highest level within Renault. The fact that we are writing to all Clio II owners demonstrates how seriously Renault takes any customer issue and illustrates our openness with the customers.

Renault is sorry that Graeme Holt, former Press Relations Manager, Renault UK, has issues with the company. However Renault's priority remains its customers and communicating with them.

Renault refutes claims that issue due to a design fault

There is no design fault with the bonnet catch mechanism on the Clio II. Graeme Holt has no accredited technical expertise with which to make such a claim.

This issue is a maintenance issue pure and simple. In its investigations, Renault discovered several cases of poor maintenance where the bonnet had opened whilst the car was being driven.

Immediately following Watchdog's original broadcast, Renault UK instructed its dealers to check the bonnet catch mechanism on Clio II free-of-charge for customers and we have now formalised this by adding a check to the service schedule.

A check of the bonnet catch mechanism is already included in the annual MOT test required for vehicles more than three years old.

Clio Campus

There are no reports of this issue on Clio Campus. Renault dealers have been provided with correct maintenance instructions for this vehicle and it will be applied to all Renault vehicles, including Clio Campus as reassuring our customers is Renault's priority.

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