The European Commission charged car manufacturers Daimler, BMW, and the Volkswagen group, including Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche, with €875 million in fines for breaching EU antitrust rules due to their collusion on the technical development in nitrogen oxide cleaning in new diesel passenger cars, a statement from the commission said Thursday.
'The five car manufacturers Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche possessed the technology to reduce harmful emissions beyond what was legally required under EU emission standards. But they avoided competing on using this technology's full potential to clean better than what is required by law,' Executive Vice-President of the Commission Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, was quoted as saying in the statement.
As Daimler revealed the existence of the cartel to the commission, they were not fined, but all parties acknowledged their involvement and agreed to settle the case.
Vestager said the decision made on Thursday is about how legitimate technical cooperation went wrong.
'..We do not tolerate it when companies collude. It is illegal under EU Antitrust rules. Competition and innovation on managing car pollution are essential for Europe to meet our ambitious Green Deal objectives. And this decision shows that we will not hesitate to take action against all forms of cartel conduct putting in jeopardy this goal,' she said.
According to the statement, the car manufacturers held regular technical meetings over a five-year period to avoid competition on cleaning better than what is required by law despite the relevant technology being available.
During these meetings, they discussed the development of the selective catalytic reduction technology that eliminates harmful nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel passenger cars through the injection of urea into the exhaust gas stream.
- Volkswagen receives reduction for helping prove existence of cartel
The commission set the fines based on 2006 guidelines.
Under this, Daimler received full immunity and thereby avoided an aggregate fine of €727 million.
The Volkswagen group benefited from a reduction of the fine under the 2006 Leniency Notice with €502.3 million because it helped the commission prove the cartel's existence, while BMW was fined €372.8 million.
'Today's cartel investigation is an example of how competition law enforcement can contribute to the Green Deal by keeping our markets efficient, fair and innovative. Innovation is the key for Europe to meet its ambitious Green Deal objectives and vibrant competition is the key for such innovation to thrive,' the statement read.
By Nuran Erkul Kaya