The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether BMW, Daimler and VW (Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche) colluded, in breach of EU antitrust rules, to avoid competition on the development and roll-out of technology to clean the emissions of petrol and diesel passenger cars.
The Commission is assessing whether the companies colluded to limit the development and roll-out of certain emissions control systems for cars sold in the European Economic Area, namely:
- Selective Catalytic Reduction (‘SCR’) systems to reduce harmful nitrogen oxides emissions from passenger cars with diesel engines; and
- ‘Otto’ Particulate Filters (‘OPF’) to reduce harmful particulate matter emissions from passenger cars with petrol engines.
The in-depth investigation will aim to establish whether the conduct of BMW, Daimler and VW may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices, including agreements to limit or control technical development.
“The Commission is investigating whether BMW, Daimler and VW agreed not to compete against each other on the development and roll-out of important systems to reduce harmful emissions from petrol and diesel passenger cars,” said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy.
“These technologies aim at making passenger cars less damaging to the environment. If proven, this collusion may have denied consumers the opportunity to buy less polluting cars, despite the technology being available to the manufacturers.”
The Commission has carried out a series of major investigations into cartels in the automotive parts sector. The Commission has already fined suppliers of automotive bearings, wire harnesses in cars, flexible foam used in car seats, parking heaters in cars and trucks, alternators and starters, air conditioning and engine cooling systems, lighting systems, occupant safety systems, braking systems and spark plugs.