EU accuses BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen of more emissions cheating

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Last Friday, the European Union Commission accused German automakers BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen Group of colluding to limit emissions control technologies in their gasoline and diesel powered vehicles.

According to The Associated Press, the companies are accused of agreeing to avoid or delay the implementation of particulate filters on gasoline powered vehicles and of coordinating limits on the AdBlue urea injection systems used to control nitrogen oxide emissions in diesel engines. Limiting urea injection extends the refill interval for the additive at the expense of higher emissions. The misdeeds are alleged to have taken place between 2006 and 2014 and are apparently not related to Volkwagen’s own diesel emissions cheating scandal.

After opening an investigation last September, following raids to the companies’ offices in October of 2017, the EU last week sent the three manufacturers a formal letter taking the position that the coordination was illegal. The accusation is still a preliminary ruling and must be confirmed by the EU.

In a press release, the EU Commission said, “Such market behavior, if confirmed… would violate EU competition rules prohibiting cartel agreements to limit or control production, markets or technical development.” If  the Commission decides that the companies have broken those rules, it can impose a fine of up to 10 percent of a company’s annual global revenue. Daimler, VW, and BMW booked $190 billion, $264 billion, and $28 billion respectively in 2018 so the EU could conceivably impose about $48 billion in fines.

2018 BMW M3 CS
BMW M3 CS BMW

In 2016 and 2017, the EU Commission fined six truck makers $4.28 billion for colluding on pricing and emissions technology.

According to Reuters, it was Daimler that dropped a dime in the current matter, informing the EU of the collusion. The company expects to avoid a fine because of its whistleblowing. Volkswagen said that it is reviewing the allegations and that it is cooperating with the EU. BMW took a more defensive stance, saying that there was no collusion or secret agreements, that the discussions among engineers were done openly and were intended to improve emissions technology.

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