Brussels, April 5 (IANS) The European Union on Friday accused Germany’s carmakers of collusion in holding back technology to reduce harmful emissions from vehicles.
The probe stems from inspections that the EU conducted in October 2017 at the premises of BMW, Daimler and of Volkswagen and its Audi subsidiary.
The European Commission said that Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler broke antitrust rules by acting together to delay the introduction of two emissions cleaning systems between 2006 and 2014, CNN reported.
EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement that companies can cooperate to improve their products, but they cannot agree not to compete on quality.
“We are concerned that this is what happened in this case. As a result, European consumers may have been denied the opportunity to buy cars with the best available technology,” she said.
The Commission said that one of the technologies affected by the scheme would have reduced harmful nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel cars. The other was designed to filter emissions in gasoline vehicles.
“Restricting competition on innovation for these two emission cleaning systems … denied consumers the opportunity to buy less polluting cars,” the EU regulator said in a statement.
The EU’s antitrust unit said it told the companies of its preliminary view that they may have breached EU antitrust rules from 2006 to 2014.
The Commission said the carmakers would get an opportunity to respond to its preliminary conclusion. The companies face fines of up to 10 per cent of their annual worldwide sales.
A similar antitrust investigation in 2016 and 2017 into six European truck makers, including Daimler, resulted in total fines of 3.8 billion euros ($4.27 billion), Efe news reported.
One of the charges in that probe was collusion to delay the introduction of emission technologies for trucks.
Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to rigging nearly 11 million diesel-powered vehicles with software that allowed them to cheat on emissions tests.