In October 2017, the Commission carried out inspections at the premises of BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen and Audi in Germany, as part of its initial inquiries into possible collusion between car manufacturers on the technological development of passenger cars. The Commission opened an in-depth investigation in September 2018.
“The European Commission has informed BMW, Daimler and VW (Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche) of its preliminary view that they have breached EU antitrust rules from 2006 to 2014 by colluding to restrict competition on the development of technology to clean the emissions of petrol and diesel passenger cars.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in charge of competition policy said: “Companies can cooperate in many ways to improve the quality of their products. However, EU competition rules do not allow them to collude on exactly the opposite: not to improve their products, not to compete on quality. We are concerned that this is what happened in this case and that Daimler, VW and BMW may have broken EU competition rules. As a result, European consumers may have been denied the opportunity to buy cars with the best available technology. The three car manufacturers now have the opportunity to respond to our findings.”
The Commission’s preliminary view is that BMW, Daimler and VW participated in a collusive scheme, in breach of EU competition rules, to limit the development and roll-out of emission cleaning technology for new diesel and petrol passenger cars sold in the European Economic Area (EEA). This collusion occurred in the framework of the car manufacturers’ so-called “circle of five” technical meetings.B