The European Commission announced on Thursday that it has found that Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen group breached EU antitrust rules by restricting competition in emission cleaning for new passenger diesel cars, and it fined BMW and Volkswagen Group €875,189,000 between them.
The EU executive said they colluded on technical development in the area of nitrogen oxide cleaning but Daimler was not fined, as it revealed the existence of the cartel. All parties acknowledged their involvement in the cartel and agreed to settle the case.
“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 to compete on using this technology’s full potential to clean better than what is required by law,” said Executive Vice-President of the Commission, Margrethe Vestager in a press release.
“Today’s decision is about how legitimate technical cooperation went wrong and we do not tolerate it when companies collude. It is illegal under EU Antitrust rules,” added Vestager.
The EU Commission said the car manufactures removed the uncertainty about their future market conduct concerning nitrogen oxide emissions cleaning beyond and above the legal requirements and AdBlue-refill ranges and meant that they restricted competition on product characteristics relevant for the customers. The conduct took place between 25 June 2009 and 1 October 2014.
A reduction was applied for all parties given that this is the first cartel prohibition decision based solely on a restriction of technical development.
The Commission applied a reduction of 10% of the fines of all parties under the “2008 Settlement Notice” in view of the acknowledgment of their participation in the cartel and of their liability in this infringement.