Prosecutors in Paris announced Friday that they were launching an investigation into the Volkswagen scandal, looking into what they termed as suspicions of "aggravated deception".
The German auto giant is in hot water on both sides of the Atlantic after it emerged that it had equipped its cars with software that allowed the vehicles to cheat pollution tests.
The probe will look at whether that extended to cars sold in France. The decision to start investigations was made following a preliminary report.
Around 11 million diesel cars worldwide from the maker of VW, Audi, Skoda and SEAT are alleged to have been fitted with the software.
The French inquiry will involve the public department for environment and health protection as well as the Anti-Corruption Office of the Judicial Police.
Volkswagon's former CEO, Martin Winterkorn, has already come under investigation by the German state attorney, after it received complaints from people who had raised the issue anonymously. Prosecutors said yesterday that he was no longer under official investigation.
The German probe is seeking to clarify whether criminal or civil charges will be brought over the emissions issue, specifically whether it may constitute fraud and to determine who knew about it.
Winterkorn resigned last Wednesday while repeatedly denying any knowledge of the software.
A class action lawsuit was announced in the US on Monday, while in Spain a civil case has been mooted. ®