EU antitrust regulators are probing if BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen colluded to limit the rollout of clean emission technology, a move that could result in hefty fines for the German automakers.
The European Commission started an in-depth investigation, almost a year after it raided the firms and two years after it slapped a record 2.93 billion euro ($3.4 billion) fine on a group of truckmakers consisting Daimler for fixing prices and postponing the adoption of cleaner engine technology.
The EU executive stated the “circle of five” – BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen Group’s VW, Audi and Porsche – held meetings where they might have colluded to restrict the development and roll-out of specific emissions control systems for vehicles sold in Europe.
“These technologies aim at making passenger cars less harming to the environment. If proven, this collusion may have rejected consumers the opportunity to purchase less polluting cars, regardless of the technology being available to the manufacturers,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager stated.
The Commission stated the technologies involved were selective catalytic reduction systems, that decrease nitrogen oxides from diesel car emissions, and “Otto” particulate filters that decrease particulate matter emissions from petrol vehicles.
The EU antitrust enforcer stated the automakers had also talked about other technical concerns, such as common standards for car components and testing procedures, however it did not have enough indications that these meetings were anti-competitive.