EU alleges German automakers of colluding to delay clean air technology

European Union EU

Germany’s automakers have been alleged by the European Union of collusion in holding back technology to decrease harmful emissions from vehicles.

The European Commission stated Friday that Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler broke antitrust regulations by acting together to postpone the introduction of two emissions cleaning systems between 2006 and 2014.

Margrethe Vestager, the bloc’s top competition official, stated that companies can cooperate to enhance their products, but they cannot agree not to rival on quality.

“We are concerned that this is what happened in this case,” she stated. “As a result, European consumers may have been declined the opportunity to buy cars with the best available technology.”

Regulators alleged the automakers of colluding at their annual “circle of five” technical meetings, that are attended by BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen and its subsidiary brands Audi and Porsche.

The Commission stated that one of the technologies affected by the scheme would have declined harmful nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel vehicles. The other was styled to filter emissions in gasoline vehicles.

“Restricting competition on innovation for these two emission cleaning systems … denied customers the opportunity to buy less polluting cars,” the EU regulator stated.

The Commission stated the automakers would get an opportunity to respond to it’s initial conclusion. The companies deal with fines of up to 10% of their annual international sales.

Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler (DDAIF) stated it has been working with the Commission and does not expect to be fined.

BMW stated that it considers the probe to be “an attempt to equate permissible coordination of industry positions” with unlawful cartel behavior. Talks with its competitors were intended to enhance exhaust technology and did not involve any “secret agreements,” it included.

Volkswagen stated it would examine the complaints and reply at a later date.

The reputation of Germany’s flagship manufacturing industry continues to have a hard time from a scandal that erupted in 2015 when Volkswagen admitted to rigging millions of diesel engines to evade emissions tests.

The revelation raised concerns among consumer and regulators in diesel technology and cost Volkswagen tens of billions of dollars in recalls, legal fines and settlements.

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