BMW, Volkswagen fined for breaching antitrust rules in Europe

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The European Commission has imposed a fine of € 875 million on BMW and Volkswagen group (Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche) for breaching antitrust rules.

The commission found that both leading automaker giants signed an agreement with Daimler, their auto manufacturer, to not compete against each other on technical development in the area of nitrogen oxide cleaning.

“All parties acknowledged their involvement in the cartel and agreed to settle the case,” read official press release.

Executive Vice-President of the Commission Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy said: “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. So 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. Competition and innovation on managing car pollution are essential for Europe to meet our ambitious Green Deal objectives. And this decision shows that we will not hesitate to take action against all forms of cartel conduct putting in jeopardy this goal.”

The car manufacturers held regular technical meetings to discuss the development of the selective catalytic reduction (SCR)-technology which eliminates harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx)-emissions from diesel passenger cars through the injection of urea (also called “AdBlue”) into the exhaust gas stream. During these meetings, and for over five years, the car manufacturers colluded to avoid competition on cleaning better than what is required by law despite the relevant technology being available.

Explaining other violations by the automakers, the commission said that the gotd, restricted competition on product characteristics relevant for the customers.

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