Bruselas, Jul 8 (EFE).- The European Commission announced Thursday it will slap an aggregate 875 million euros ($1.03B) fine on car manufacturers Daimler, BMW, and Volkswagen group, which includes Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche, for their involvement in a cartel that ran for five years in breach of antitrust rules.
The EC said the companies all acknowledged they avoided competition by colluding on technical developments in the area of nitrogen oxide cleaning.
The Volkswagen group will be fined 502 million euros and BMW will be charged roughly 373m, whereas Daimler was not fined thanks to a 100% leniency reduction granted for revealing the scheme to the Commission.
“The five car manufacturers Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche possessed the technology to reduce harmful emissions,” said European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager.
“But they avoided to compete on using this technology’s full potential to clean better than what is required by law.”
The cartel held regular technical meetings between June 2009 and October 2014, as the car manufacturers shared information about their emissions-cleaning technologies.
This marks the bloc’s first anti-competition sanction based solely on a restriction of technical development, rather than price fixing, market sharing or customer allocation.
Daimer, BMW and the Volkswagen group reached an agreement on the size and range of AdBlue tanks and an average estimated consumption of AdBlue, a liquid solution that cleans the exhaust gas stream’s nitrogen oxide.
“This decision shows that we will not hesitate to take action against all forms of cartel conduct,” said Vestager, stressing the importance of “competition and innovation” to meet the European Green Deal’s objectives.
The Volkswagen group was granted a 45% leniency reduction for its cooperation with the EC’s investigation, which was added to another 10% settlement discount that BMW was also given, due to the novelty of a decision on curbing technical development.