BMW, Daimler, VW broke antitrust rules, EU says in ‘preliminary view’

BMW, Daimler and VW found guilty of emissions collusion

BMW, Daimler and VW found guilty of emissions collusion

According to an investigation by the EU's anti-trust regulator, BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen worked together between 2006 and 2014 to stymie competition in developing emissions cleaning technology.

Already reeling in the wake of the devastating "dieselgate" emissions cheating scandal that broke in 2015, the German carmakers will have to respond to the EU's findings, which could result in stiff penalties if the European Commission decides to pursue a cartel case against them. However, EU competition rules do not allow them to collude on exactly the opposite: "not to improve their products, not to compete on quality", said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, head of the competition policy.

VW has put aside some 29 billion euros ($33 billion) to settle diesel emissions-related lawsuits and pay damages, and faces more than $10 billion in further claims from disgruntled investors and customers - as well as untold damage to its reputation as top executives risk being hauled before court.

The European Commission has told BMW, Daimler and VW (including Audi and Porsche) it believes they colluded to delay the launch of emissions-reducing technology on new petrol and diesel cars.

The companies are accused of, among other things, not developing selective catalytic reduction systems to reduce harmful nitrogen oxides and delaying the release of "Otto" particle filters to reduce particle emissions from the exhaust gases of petrol passenger cars.

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Emissions have become a big topic for the industry as authorities try to meet climate change goals and after Volkswagen admitted in 2015 that it cheated on auto emissions tests. That would mean Europeans were breathing poisonous air that should have been avoided. "We need to clean up the 43m dirty diesels that are on our streets today".

European Union enforcers said their case was not related to other investigations into the use of illegal defeat devices to cheat emissions tests and possible violations of environmental laws.

Nicolai Laude, VW's litigation director, stressed that the EU's investigation was limited to conduct relating to emissions controls systems. The duration of an antitrust investigation depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of the case, the extent to which the undertaking concerned cooperates with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence.

"Volkswagen will examine the complaints and issue a statement after evaluating the investigation file as part of its cooperation".

In the case of VW, worldwide revenue in 2018 was nearly €236 billion ($265 billion), for Daimler it was €167 billion ($187 billion), whilst for BMW (2017 figures) it was €99 billion ($111 billion).

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