‘BMW, Daimler, VW broke antitrust rules’

BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen were found to be colluding with each other in the preliminary inquiry. (AFP picture)

BRUSSELS: The European Union warned German car giants BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen on Friday that a preliminary inquiry has concluded they colluded not to compete on emission control technology.

“As a result, European consumers may have been denied the opportunity to buy cars with the best available technology. The three manufacturers now have an opportunity to respond to our findings,” EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

The EU Commission has concluded that BMW, Daimler and the VW group – Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche – held so-called “circle of five” meetings to rig competition in emissions technology.

This allowed them to limit the introduction of “AdBlue” or urea to diesel engine exhaust gases, reducing its effectiveness as a way to produce cleaner emissions, the statement said.

The firms also – “in the Commission’s preliminary view” – colluded to avoid or delay introducing OPF particle filters to reduce harmful particles in petrol exhaust fumes.

The findings form the basis of a “statement of objections” to which the firms will have a chance to respond before the Commission decides whether to pursue a case under competition rules banning cartel agreements.

A Damiler spokeswoman told AFP the firm was aware of the report but had already been cooperating with investigators and “does not expect to receive a fine in this matter”.