Volkswagen Group and BMW have been fined $1 billion by the European Commission for colluding with Daimler to restrict the development of technology that could have reduced harmful emissions from their vehicles.
The Commission said the three German carmakers, along with Volkswagen subsidiaries Audi and Porsche, breached EU antitrust rules by agreeing to avoid competing on technical development in the area of nitrogen oxide cleaning in a statement released on Thursday, July 8.
According to the Commission, the charges stem from conduct that took between 2009 and 2014, in which the carmakers held “regular technical meetings” to discuss the development of technology that eliminates harmful nitrogen-oxide emissions from diesel passenger cars.
“Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche, five car manufacturers, had the technology to reduce harmful emissions beyond what was legally required under EU emission standards. They did not, though, compete on using the full potential of this technology to clean better than what is required by law “Margrethe Vestager, the EU Commission’s top antitrust official, said in a statement.
“In today’s world, polluting less is an important characteristic of any car. And this cartel aimed at restricting competition on this key competition parameter,” she added.
Volkswagen (VLKAF), including its Audi and Porsche brands, was fined €502 million ($595 million) and BMW (BMWYY) was fined €373 million ($442 million). Daimler (DDAIF) was not fined because it revealed the existence of the cartel, the Commission said.