German carmakers colluded on emissions tech

German carmakers colluded on emissions tech

German carmakers colluded on emissions tech

The findings form the basis of a "statement of objections" to which the firms will have a chance to respond before the Commission decides whether to pursue a case under competition rules banning cartel agreements.

The technology helps eliminate nitrogen oxides, which can be harmful to human health, from both gasoline and diesel passenger cars.

Already reeling in the wake of the devastating "dieselgate" emissions cheating scandal that broke in 2015, the German carmakers will have to respond to the EU's findings, which could result in stiff penalties if the European Commission decides to pursue a cartel case against them.

In a statement of objections, the European Commission said the German vehicle giants breached antitrust rules from 2006 to 2014 by conspiring to limit competition on developing emissions-cleaning technology for gas- and diesel-powered passenger cars.

In 2018, BMW's turnover was 97 billion Euros; Daimler's was 167 billion Euros, and Volkswagen Group (to which VW, Porsche and Audi belong) turned over 235 billion Euros. However, EU competition rules do not allow them to collude on exactly the opposite: "not to improve their products, not to compete on quality", said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, head of the competition policy.

The Otto filters are supposed to control exhaust gases from petrol passenger cars and limit particulate emissions, which are associated with tens of thousands of deaths a year. OPF technology is used on gas engines with direct injection to reduce emissions.

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The view taken by the Commission, preliminarily, is that by restricting competition on innovation with regard to these two technologies, the companies have denied consumers the chance to buy less polluting cars.

At the same time, Daimler has agreed to recall some 774,000 vehicles in Europe to improve emissions performance and remains subject to investigations in Germany and the U.S.

BMW has agreed to pay an 8.5 million-euro fine after an investigation found the company had installed the wrong emissions software in a limited number of vehicles by accident.

There is, adds the commission in its preliminary antitrust statement, no deadline for it to complete its investigations.

If the European Union concludes that there is sufficient evidence of an infringement it could impose a fine of up to 10% of a companies' annual worldwide turnover. He said: "The commission acknowledges the fact that cooperation between manufacturers on technical issues is widespread in the global automotive industry".

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