By on April 5, 2019

It might have taken two years of investigative raids and Daimler acting as a whistleblower, but Germany’s Big Three automakers finally stand accused by the European Union of collusion. On Friday, the European Commission claimed that Volkswagen Group, BMW and Daimler broke antitrust rules by acting together to delay the introduction of two emission cleaning systems between 2006 and 2014.

The Commission’s preliminary view is that BMW, Daimler and VW participated in a collusive scheme, breaching the EU’s competition rules by limiting the development and proliferation of new emission cleaning technology for diesel and gasoline-fueled passenger cars sold in the “European Economic Area.” This collusion occurred in the framework of the car manufacturers’ so-called “circle of five” technical meetings — which includes VW Group’s Porsche and Audi. 

“Companies can cooperate in many ways to improve the quality of their products. However, EU competition rules do not allow them to collude on exactly the opposite: not to improve their products, not to compete on quality,” said European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in a statement.

“We are concerned that this is what happened in this case and that Daimler, VW and BMW may have broken EU competition rules. As a result, European consumers may have been denied the opportunity to buy cars with the best available technology. The three car manufacturers now have the opportunity to respond to our findings.”

The EU is most concerned with selective catalytic reduction systems, which reduce nitrogen oxides from diesel emissions, and “Otto” filters that minimize particulate matter emissions from gasoline-powered vehicles.

From the European Commission:

In October 2017, the Commission carried out “inspections” of BMW, Daimler, VW and Audi in Germany, as part of its initial inquiries into possible collusion between car manufacturers on the technological development of passenger cars. The Commission opened an in-depth investigation in September 2018.

A Statement of Objections is a formal step in Commission investigations into suspected violations of EU antitrust rules. The Commission informs the parties concerned in writing of the objections raised against them. The parties can then examine the documents in the Commission’s investigation file, reply in writing and request an oral hearing to present their comments on the case before representatives of the Commission and national competition authorities.

The EU said it could impose a fine of up to 10 percent of a company’s annual turnover if the Commission concludes there is sufficient evidence of an infringement of its rules.

Daimler is likely very surprised by this, as it has repeatedly stated its status as a whistleblower would absolve it of any legal ramifications. While VW has made no official comment, BMW said it is still investigating the claims against it. However, it also adopted a more confrontational stance, saying, “The BMW Group regards these proceedings as an attempt to equate permissible coordination of industry positions regarding the regulatory framework with unlawful cartel agreements.”

[Image: LanaElcova/Shutterstock]

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20 Comments on “EU Charges BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen With Emissions Collusion...”


  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Poor Rachel Maddow missed this scoop.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    maybe they didnt want to all introduce expensive half-baked solutions that were going to require a lot of maintenance. cant blame em for that

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      No way – it had to be evil greedy collusion to kill the planet. And now we only have 10 years (Beto) to 12 years (AOC) before we are all roasted to death by global warming. Damn you rotten Krauts!!!

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        We’ve had twelve years ever since 1968. Just ask Paul Ehrlich. It is the perfect length of time for scaring imbeciles without having to worry about them remembering what you were lying about when it doesn’t come true.

        • 0 avatar
          JD-Shifty

          you’re the one who seems to be an imbecile. clean running cars are great.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            Clean? Yes. Efficient? No. The masses have spoken. Bigger is better. It’s an arms race on the roads.

            Two different subjects are getting mixed here. Which one are you defending, JD-Shifty?

            VW actually tried to reduce CO2 output by making their cars cheaper, more efficient, and more reliable; sacrificing local air quality instead.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I’ve said from the get-go that there’s no way VW was alone in the emissions gaming… game. For as long as they were cheating there’s no chance someone in the industry didn’t figure out what they were doing. That the Germans we complicit in one cheat means they either knew about or were involved in the others.

    • 0 avatar
      JRobUSC

      I don’t know about Benz, but BMW was using those expensive exhaust cleaning systems in their diesels for years when their competitors somehow magically said THEIR cars didn’t need them to pass emissions tests (cough cough VAG cough cough), saving all that money while simultaneously flooding the media and public with their “clean diesel” and “truth in engineering” advertising BS. So if BMW was colluding, they weren’t doing a very good job of it, seeing as how they spent billions of dollars including those exhaust scrubbers when VW/Audi/Porsche/etc. weren’t. If anything this looks more like Daimler was colluding, knew they were about to get caught, and turned themselves in preemptively in an attempt to gain leniency for something they knew they were doing (and VAG was already convicted of doing).

  • avatar

    EU and NATO were created to contain German power. That is what EU is trying to do. Germany recently took openly anti-NATO stance aligning itself with Russia. I feel no sorry for them.

    • 0 avatar
      Sceptic

      Germany and Russia are natural allies. Once past WWII order was broken by the United States more and more countries start to realize the new realities. It’s been a long time since WWII let bygones be bygones.

  • avatar
    BIllM704_MZ3SGT

    FFS….. Honestly though, this doesn’t surprise me any.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    I’m confused – I was told conspiracies never happen, anywhere, ever.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    No collusion. Witch hunt. Total exoneration. Etc.


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