Volkswagen, Daimler address ‘cartel’ claims
Volkswagen and Daimler have declined to comment on claims that they worked with other German carmakers to fix the price of diesel emissions treatment systems.
The claims were first printed by Der Spiegel last week and are now under investigation by EU and German anti-trust regulators.
The magazine said VW, its Audi and Porsche brands and BMW and Mercedes owner Daimler may have colluded to fix prices on components, including of diesel emissions treatment systems, using industry committees. The piece said discussions started in the 1990s.
Firms that infringe EU cartel rules are liable to pay fines of up to 10 per cent of their global revenue. BMW, Porsche and Audi are also under investigation.
Germany’s vehicle manufacturers are still mired in the 2015 diesel car emission-rigging scandal after Volkswagen was found to have cheated official tests by using special software to trick the inspectors by producing low pollution levels.
Volkswagen, the world’s largest car maker, has admitted that about 11 million cars worldwide were fitted with the device.
Manufacturers have continued to recall vehicles since the diesel emissions scandal broke. Daimler last week announced it was recalling 3 million Mercedes-Benz diesels to improve their emissions performance through an update of engine control software. Volkswagen’s Audi brand will recall 850,000 vehicles for similar adjustments.
Calls to ban diesel vehicles from German cities as air pollution levels have exceeded legal limits in urban areas so far this summer. Berlin has called a “diesel summit” next week between environmental officials and the car industry to find ways to cut emissions and ensure that diesel vehicles have a future.
Last year, a US court told Volkswagen to pay a US$14.7-billion settlement over the emissions scandal.
German automotive shares took a hit this week, weighed down by uncertainty over possible antitrust fines.
Exane BNP Paribas automotive analyst Stuart Pearson said little was known about the claims but no evidence had emerged about fixing prices charged to customers.
“More ugly details could yet emerge, leaving German manufacturers – and the EU auto sector – still firmly in the sin bin for now,” Pearson said.
Volkswagen could do with some time away from the headlines. Picture credit: Wikimedia