By on July 24, 2017

german flag and reichstag

Volkswagen will hold an emergency supervisory board meeting on Wednesday to discuss recent allegations that Germany’s automakers have been operating as an automotive cartel since the 1990s. Meanwhile, Daimler’s workers council is demanding answers from management as the automaker reels from a one-two-punch of collusion and emissions cheating accusations.

“I advise the car industry to clear the air now, to say what has happened, and then we can look to the future together again,” parliamentary group leader Volker Kauder, said Monday on German television. “If the antitrust violations prove true, and there’s a lot to suggest that, then one must really say the clear sentence: the rule of law also applies to the car industry.”

However, claiming there is sufficient proof to prosecute is a little premature. With the exception of a somewhat damning letter intercepted from VW, no hard evidence of collusion has been made public. Investigators are still in the early stages of the antitrust probe and have given few details as to its progress. 

Regardless how true the allegations are, Germany’s automakers will still be entering damage control this summer. BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen’s share price all took a hit on Monday morning after investors, soured by the news, sold off their shares en masse.

A large contributor to the recent cartel suspicions are the similarities between Mercedes’ recent recall of 3 million diesel vehicles and the one that led Volkswagen to disaster in 2015. It was suggested by Der Spiegel that German automakers conspired to use smaller diesel emission fluid (DEF) tanks, which resulted in the use of software-based defeat devices when the systems failed to meet emissions standards. However, the size of the tanks should be irrelevant and BMW has been quick to remind everyone that its diesel technology had passed muster — denying the company has ever involved itself in any emissions cheating.

“As a matter of principle: BMW Group vehicles are not manipulated and comply with respective legal requirements,” the company said in a statement. “Of course this also applies to diesel vehicles. The BMW Group categorically rejects accusations that Euro 6 diesel vehicles sold by the company do not provide adequate exhaust gas treatment due to AdBlue tanks that are too small.”

It’s unlikely the governmental probe will yield any fast answers, but that hasn’t prevented those affected from demanding them. According to Reuters, Daimler works council chief Michael Brecht called for an immediate investigation into the antitrust claims. Brecht stated that “workers are rightly horrified and angry” by the allegations and that consequences should result if they’re proven true.

Volkswagen’s union council had similar concerns. “Management has the duty to thoroughly inform the supervisory board. That hasn’t happened yet,” the VW works council said in an official statement. “We also expect the management board to give an explanation to the workforce. Trust in company leadership is dwindling more each day.”

A spokesperson from Volkswagen has confirmed that chairman Hans Dieter Pötsch will convene a special supervisory board meeting to the discuss the matter on Wednesday morning. Daimler has not made any plans for such a meeting, according to company spokeswoman Ute Wüest von Vellberg, but it will report its quarterly results on June 26th — and the board is likely to convene beforehand.

Presently, the only standing accusations revolve around the price fixing of various automotive parts, specifically the AdBlue diesel treatment systems. There have been no claims made that any automaker engaged in price fixing to consumers.

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6 Comments on “Volkswagen to Conduct ‘Crisis Meeting’ Over EU Cartel Allegations, BMW Plays it Cool...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “I advise the car industry to clear the air now”

    The unintended play on words is precious.

  • avatar

    Is there a distinction (in German anti-trust law) between price fixing to consumers versus price-fixing within the wall of the industry?

    German and/or European Union anti-trust law is of course something I expect an automotive journalist to be well versed in..

  • avatar

    I always thought it was weird that around 2010, all the German 3.0L V6 Diesels each had roughly the same amount of HP and torque.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      I do believe the EU V6 diesels ranged from roughly 140kw to 200kw.

      That’s a large spread.

      I think the Ford Lion is up around 190-200kw. This is British and not German.

      Reanault (fr) 3 litre V6 is around 177kw.

      And believe it or not the FCA 3 litre V6 diesel (Italian), the one used by Ram, Jeep and Chrysler was initially designed for Caddy, not a Euro manufacturer.

      BMW had a great tri turbo inline 3 litre 6 with 287kw and untold torque.

  • avatar

    BMW is really sticking their necks out with such a statement, so they are either innocent or believe the evidence is really well buried.

  • avatar

    What will we learn next: MB-TEX IS PEOPLE?!?

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