The European Commission has fined BMW and Volkswagen for colluding with Daimler to limit the use of emissions cleaning technology…
BMW and Volkswagen Fined
BMW and Volkswagen have been fined the equivalent of £750 million for colluding with Daimler to slow down the rollout of emissions cleaning technology; something that violates antitrust laws. According to the Commission, the three automakers had talks ten years ago. During them, they discussed selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology. This injects AdBlue to reduce nitrogen oxide from the exhaust gases of diesel vehicles.
Between 2009 and 2014, the automakers colluded to actively avoid competition by releasing any technology that would clean emissions beyond the legal EU requirements. Also present at the talks were representatives from the likes of Audi, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz. Volkswagen will be forced to pay £430 million, whilst BMW will pay £320. Daimler has avoided fines, as it revealed the existence of the plot. It would have faced up to £624 million had it failed to do so.
Commercially Sensitive Information
Ultimately, the car manufacturers agreed to fix the size of AdBlue tanks; and, crucially, the average consumption of AdBlue in their vehicles. This process required them to share commercially sensitive information, meaning they wouldn’t need to compete with one and other. A consequence of this is that it fundamentally meant stagnation in the development of cleaner and more effective technologies.
Margrethe Vestager, European Union antitrust chief, commented on the case. She said, “this is the first time that the commission finds that cooperation on technical elements, as opposed to price fixing or market sharing, amounts to cartel behaviour. All companies acknowledged their participation in the cartel and agreed to settle the case”.
She added, “every year, millions of new diesel cars worth billions of euros are sold in Europe. And many more are already in use. Not only users of these cars, but all citizens must be able to trust that car manufacturers compete with one another to reduce harmful emissions from their vehicles. But these companies did not meet these expectations”.
Ultimately, as we face an emerging Climate Crisis, some of the world’s largest car manufacturers schemed together to prevent solutions within the automotive industry from emerging. For Volkswagen in particular, it represents just another emissions-related controversy in a long chain.
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