EU Fines Audi, BMW, Volkswagen $1 Billion For Alleged Collusion

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The EU dolled out $1 billion in fines Thursday to German automakers that refused to make cars more eco-friendly.

BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen, as well as Volkswagen-owned Porsche and Audi, apparently refused to incorporate new technologies that would reduce pollution from gas and desire passenger vehicles, according to The Associated Press. The EU took action against the automakers for anti-competitive behavior and cartel action, which marked the first time the EU used such action to punish companies for not innovating, the AP noted.

Daimler revealed the cartel to the European Commission, the AP reported, and thus escaped the fines.

EU anti-trust chief Margrethe Vestager claimed that the companies did not use technology that would have lowered vehicle model emissions below legal limits, and therefore denied consumers the ability to purchase low-emitting vehicles, according to the AP.

“Manufacturers deliberately avoided to compete on cleaning better than what was required by EU emission standards. And they did so despite the relevant technology being available,” Vestager said, the AP report stated.

Vestager stated the violation stems from an agreement between the auto manufacturers regarding the size of tanks in vehicles that contained a urea solution called AdBlue, a substance that is injected from the tank into the exhaust system in order to limit pollution, according to the AP.

The companies apparently also agreed on the range vehicles could drive before the tank would need to be refilled, to which the EU argued a bigger tank would have meant less pollution, the AP report claimed.

This type of coordination between companies would have been allowable had they resulted in efficiency gains, Vestager claimed. “But the dividing line is clear: Companies must not coordinate their behavior to limit the full potential of any type of technology,” Vestager went on to say, according to the AP. (RELATED: Kia Motors Recalls 308,000 Cars, Recommends Parking Outside Due To Risk Of Engine Fire)

“The [EU] Commission is breaking new legal ground with this decision, because it is the first time it has prosecuted technical cooperation as an antitrust violation,” Volkswagen claimed in a statement, the AP reported. “It is also imposing fines even though the contents of the talks were never implemented and customers were therefore never harmed.”

BMW also said the discussions between the automakers regarding AdBlue tanks had “no influence whatsoever on the company’s product decisions,” the AP noted.

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