By on February 25, 2019

The European Commission is said to be investigating several automotive companies over possible antitrust violations relating to the sale of auto parts. According to Germany’s Der Spiegel, Renault, Nissan, PSA, Jaguar Land Rover and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have all been placed under government scrutiny for possible price fixing. The report claims the manufacturers may have colluded to elevate the value of certain auto parts by as much as 25 percent.

Assuming the report is accurate, that would make this the EU’s second major automotive cartel investigation in the last two years.

In 2017, European anti-trust regulators grew concerned that the German auto industry was operating a cartel in which BMW, Volkswagen Group, and Daimler cooperated on decisions regarding emissions technology, supplier management, and price fixing. After a series of raids and a lengthy respite, without any new information on the subject, the European Commission followed up with an official investigation last fall.

Details on the new investigation are even sketchier. But the gist is that these automakers may have sold spare parts to customers at inflated prices, netting themselves around 2.5 billion euros of ill-gotten profit over the last ten years with help from a consulting firm based in Ireland. Der Spiegel claims the probe began back in December. However, as paper cited no direct sources, it’s unclear where it received its information or how serious the commission is taking the investigation.

Automotive News gave a brief recap of the story in English, reporting that Jaguar Land Rover, PSA and Fiat Chrysler declined to comment, while representatives from Renault and Nissan could not be reached. The European Commission also declined to respond.

While it may be naive to believe that multinational companies aren’t perpetually involved in illegal backroom deals with each other, Europe seems to be on a bit of an investigative tear lately. Reports of office raids are bizarrely common and rarely turn up the kind of concrete evidence necessary to blow the lid off things. Perhaps the EU just wants to keep a closer eye on the industry after Volkswagen’s diesel fiasco. We certainly know automakers are capable of pretty heinous behavior, but these subsequent probes never seem to gain much momentum or provide any closure.

[Image: Alexandr Kazharski/Shutterstock]

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12 Comments on “Fiat Chrysler, JLR, Renault, Nissan, PSA Under Possible Antitrust Investigation...”


  • avatar
    jatz

    Dang… them’re some goofy lookin’ ratchet handles!

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    I don’t get it. We’re talking about replacement parts. Why bother colluding? It isn’t like you have the option of buying a Citroen part when the crank position sensor on your Fiat Cherokee goes bad. The best competition the manufacturers’ see for replacement parts usually comes from their own suppliers.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Automakers have to be forced by governments to build EVs and hybrids just because they all lose money, they are hammered by governments for closing money losing plants or shifting production to lower cost countries, and forced to pay huge fines for failing to meet near impossible fuel economy and emission standards, while making their vehicles safe enough to survive a collision with a nuclear weapon and not hurt any nearby pedestrians.

    And now those bastards are colluding to steal money out of consumer pockets? Seems like it is high time government gets tough with those bastards by taxing and fining them until their profit margins are down to 0% from their current exorbitant 2 to 8% after tax ROI.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @stingray: They don’t all lose money. New technology does require investment, but once in production, they can be profitable on a per unit basis and some of them are. You’re also ignoring the fact that there is actually demand for them from some consumers that want the torque, quiet, smoothness, and acceleration an electric provides. Some are so blinded by politics that they ignore the fact that electrics are really fantastic vehicles to drive.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        MCS – I know most electrics are nice cars to drive, but market demands is driven almost entirely by subsidies, and they are not profitable for the automakers who would not build them if not forced to by government. This is not a very high profit business, and all the collusion and cheating (VW) is almost certainly due to the difficulty in making profits in this very regulated industry.

  • avatar
    Erikstrawn

    Renault, Nissan, PSA, Jaguar Land Rover and Fiat Chrysler are under investigation. So… stock photo of E36 parts?

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    I didn’t realize it was illegal for them to overcharge for OEM parts. I guess it isn’t a free market.

    • 0 avatar
      psychoboy

      If someone thinks the OEMs are overcharging by colluding on their MSRPs…wait ’til they see what the dealerships are doing with matrix pricing.

      I can give a customer MSRP and have him thank me for it.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Rants are much better with the illusion of some logic – profit margins and ROI are not the same thing.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    When were factory parts not overpriced?


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