The European Commission has found that Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen group (Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche) breached EU antitrust rules by colluding on technical development in the area of nitrogen oxide cleaning. The Commission has imposed a fine of € 875 189 000. Daimler was not fined, as it revealed the existence of the cartel to the Commission. All parties acknowledged their involvement in the cartel and agreed to settle the case.
Executive Vice-President of the Commission Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy said: “The five car manufacturers Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche possessed the technology to reduce harmful emissions beyond what was legally required under EU emission standards. But they avoided to compete on using this technology’s full potential to clean better than what is required by law. So today’s decision is about how legitimate technical cooperation went wrong. And we do not tolerate it when companies collude. It is illegal under EU Antitrust rules. Competition and innovation on managing car pollution are essential for Europe to meet our ambitious Green Deal objectives. And this decision shows that we will not hesitate to take action against all forms of cartel conduct putting in jeopardy this goal.”
The car manufactures held regular technical meetings to discuss the development of the selective catalytic reduction (SCR)-technology which eliminates harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx)-emissions from diesel passenger cars through the injection of urea (also called “AdBlue”) into the exhaust gas stream. During these meetings, and for over five years, the car manufacturers colluded to avoid competition on cleaning better than what is required by law despite the relevant technology being available.