EU fines BMW and VW Group €875m over emission control systems

08 Jul 2021

The European Commission has announced three German car manufacturers flouted EU antitrust regulations by limiting competition in emission cleaning for new passenger diesel cars.

Reuters reports BMW and Volkswagen Group have been fined a total of €875 million.

The European Union said the three firms had conspired on technical development of nitrogen oxide cleaning, yet Daimler avoided a fine as it revealed the cartel’s existence.

EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager stated: “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.”

Volkswagen announced it was contemplating taking legal action against the fine, claiming the punishment regarding technical discussions in regard to emissions technology with other car manufacturers set a dubious precedent.

After being fined €502 million, the German company said: “The Commission is entering new judicial territory, because it is treating technical cooperation for the first time as an antitrust violation.

“Furthermore it is imposing fines, although the content of the talks was never implemented and no customers suffered any harm as a result,” Volkswagen added.

In contrast, BMW agreed to paying a €373 million fine, saying it had been absolved of suspicion of using illegal ‘defeat devices’ to cheat emissions tests.

“This underlines that there has never been any allegation of unlawful manipulation of emission control systems by the BMW Group,” said a company statement.