EU charges German carmakers with colluding to block clean emissions technology
The EU Commission has charged German automakers BMW, Volkswagen and Daimler with colluding to obstruct the roll-out of clean emissions technology, saying the companies may have broken EU competition rules, Foo Yun Chee reports for Reuters. BMW and Volkswagen are facing possible fines that could be as high a 10 percent of the companies’ global revenue. The Commission said the companies colluded between 2006 to 2014 during technical meetings held by the “circle of five”, namely BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen Group’s VW, Audi and Porsche. Antitrust regulators focused on selective catalytic reduction systems, which reduce nitrogen oxides from diesel vehicle emissions, and particulate filters that reduce particulate matter emissions from petrol cars. "Companies can cooperate in many ways to improve the quality of their products,” said Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. “However, EU competition rules do not allow them to collude on exactly the opposite: not to improve their products, not to compete on quality.” Daimler, which alerted the European Commission to the collusion, said it did not expect to be fined as a result of its cooperation. BMW said it would contest the allegations “with all legal means if necessary” while also setting aside a provision of more than 1 billion euros. Volkswagen said it would first examine the accusations before making further comment.
The cartel allegations against Germany's powerful carmakers add to the fallout resulting from the so-called dieselgate scandal that has been haunting the companies since 2015, when it was revealed that they sold millions of cars with manipulated emissions control devices. Volkswagen, which was at the heart of the scandal, already paid billions of euros in fines in the US for deceiving customers but so far has not faced the same level of penalisation in Germany or Europe as a whole.