In Brief

EU finds BMW, Volkswagen and Mercedes parent Daimler guilty of ‘emissions collusion’

German car giants allegedly prevented green technology from reaching the market

BMW, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler have been charged by the European Union’s antitrust body with colluding to limit the use of emissions-cleaning technology.  

The European Commission claims the German carmakers held “technical meetings”, where they allegedly agreed to prevent the latest emissions-reducing technology from reaching the market, Reuters reports. 

“Daimler, VW and BMW may have broken EU competition rules,” said the European Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager. “As a result, European consumers may have been denied the opportunity to buy cars with the best available technology.”

According to Autocar, the “scheme” is believed to have limited the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems, which reduce toxic exhaust gases in diesel cars, and petrol particulate filters on models sold between 2006 and 2014. 

By agreeing to limit the use of such systems, the manufacturers would not be locked in a costly development war. The alleged collusion also occurred before the VW emissions scandal escalated in 2015, a time when vehicle exhaust gases were far less of an issue than they are today.   

Daimler, which informed the EU of the collusion in July 2017, told the Financial Times that it has been “co-operating extensively with the European Commission as leniency applicant already at an early stage and does not expect to receive a fine in this matter”.

VW has also stated that it is working with the EU, but emphasised that “the manufacturers are not charged with any other misconduct such as price fixing or allocating markets and customers”.

BMW, on the other hand, denies any wrongdoing and claims that it is “usual practice” for rival companies to work together to develop technologies, the FT reports. 

Although the companies are invited to present any information that could alter the case, they currently face “big penalties” for breaking antitrust laws, says Autocar. 

The maximum is a fine equating to 10% of the firm’s annual turnover, which is estimated to run well into the billions, the motoring magazine says.

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