BMW, Daimler, VW broke antitrust rules: EU 'preliminary view'

BMW, Daimler, VW broke antitrust rules: EU 'preliminary view'

Allegations of a cartel emerged in Germany's Spiegel magazine, which reported that VW, Daimler and BMW met starting in the 1990s to coordinate activities related to vehicle technology, costs, suppliers and strategy as well as diesel-emissions controls.

The Commission has particular concerns over the selective catalytic reduction systems, which reduce nitrogen oxide emissions in diesel vehicle exhaust streams, and "Otto" particle filters, which reduce harmful particle emissions in exhaust gases of petrol cars with direct injection.

In its preliminary report, the commission says the actions of the three carmakers "denied consumers the opportunity to buy less polluting cars, despite the technology being available to the manufacturers".

European Union authorities declared the three German automakers colluded to limit the development of emissions-cleaning technology in their vehicles, violating European Union laws between 2006 and 2014.

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).

On Thursday the Commission said it has concluded that BMW, Daimler and the VW group - Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche - held so-called "circle of five" meetings to rig competition in emissions technology. While selective catalytic reduction (urea/AdBlue injection) doesn't exist for gas engines, there are particulate filters that can help reduce tailpipe emissions.

BMW said discussions among engineers were meant to improve exhaust gas technologies and that the whole industry was aware of these talks.

The Commission adds the vehicle manufacturers' behaviour restricted competition on innovation for these two emissions cleaning systems and in doing so, denied consumers the opportunity to buy less polluting cars, despite the technology being available.

"Companies can cooperate in many ways to improve the quality of their products".

The other was created to filter emissions in gasoline vehicles.

The companies now have the right to examine the documents reviewed by the commission, reply in writing and request an oral hearing.

If, at the end of the process, the commission finds there is "sufficient evidence of an infringement" of the EU's anti-trust rules, they can be fined up to 10 per cent of their annual worldwide turnover. He said: "The commission acknowledges the fact that cooperation between manufacturers on technical issues is widespread in the global automotive industry".

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