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Written by Aaron Brigatti  
Saturday, 19 January 2008

Well having received a reply to my letter to the Renault UK Managing Director, I knew I had to continue the dialogue with them. Ultimately, my aim is to get them to resolve the root-cause of the bonnet catch mechanism (both the main and safety mechanism) and ensure no other Clio road user is put at risk by this re-occurring safety defect!

"I refer to Mr Phelan’s letter dated 28th November 2007 sent on the behalf of Mr Roland Bouchara, your Managing Director.

A few facts for you to consider:

  • Renault confirmed that the catch-mechanisms suffered corrosion, and the mechanisms had been designed to be maintenance-free.
  • My vehicle experiencing the incident had been inspected less than 3 months prior to the incident, by a Renault dealership, a number of reported cases, the last person who closed the bonnet was a Renault representative.
  • Secondary catch appeared stiff and may not have engaged securely when the bonnet was closed (comment made by a Renault technical engineer).

VOSA commented that they do not have the technical expertise to indicate anything other that maintenance as a contributable factor, advising that although they remain uncertain of the specific cause, it is likely to be caused by maintenance. Note a level of uncertainty here, so no actual determination of the root-cause was identified by VOSA.

The evidence shown to VOSA signifies that if a secondary catch operates, it would prevent a bonnet to release fully. There were no confirmed discussions on the possibility of a catch releasing when a secondary catch is not engaged. Therefore the tests that were completed by VOSA / Renault weren’t indicative to support any of the claims reported – behind the likely issues of the bonnet mechanism. No thorough analysis has been completed on any damage cars during the investigation (VOSA did not inspect my vehicle – only reviewed a report completed by Renault in my absence – on a dismembered bonnet mechanism). No scientific tests completed on my vehicle which was central to the VOSA investigation. No basis to any VOSA conclusions reported to Renault or the public.

One fact we can confirm is that a secondary catch that is designed to be “maintenance free” but does not perform effectively without maintenance, means it’s not performing as designed – illustrating an apparent failing in your design and testing procedures.

Are you in agreement that the expected performance of the safety (secondary) mechanism and parts have changed from those originally identified by Renault UK during the design / manufacturing process?

The importance of this statement implies that regardless what actions are undertaken now, the historic position is that there was a potential failure in the secondary mechanism (the safety catch) on your vehicles (regardless of what causes you believe you have identified) – one that could endanger lives of your customers. We have confirmed a possibility that a safety mechanism has severe shortcomings. This is a safety-standard defect. A safety mechanism should only be termed “safety” if it acts this function without question. If a mechanism cannot perform this function for whatever reason, then it’s a part-failure somewhere in one of your design or testing process. This is something Renault should act upon responsibly, regardless of any discussions or reports completed thus far.

An acceptable approach would be a full recall and replacement activity for the models affected, involving a throughout and complete investigation into the root-cause and ensure full resolution of the issue with a better-designed part. If you have to advise to your customers a “risk”, then this signifies something is wrong.

Lack of transparency and integrity means the issues will continue to occur. I have not witnessed a suitable reassurance or risk mitigation approach undertaken by Renault.

"Renault Commitment 2009" emphasises quality and reliability, two important factors we can question during the whole bonnet catch safety issue. I would welcome Mr Ghosn’s views on this matter, as he communicated these values, which seemingly contradicts the state of your bonnet safety mechanism on your vehicles."

But will they listen - well they haven't thus far! More discerning is the government body which manages the UK Recall and Safety Programme - VOSA - who actually side on the manufacturer, even though they have really completed a complete and impartial investigation.

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