The European Commission is investigating car giants BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen on suspicion that they colluded to restrict competition in the development of emissions-reduction technology. BMW disputes the allegations but says a fine is likely.
BMW’s first-quarter profit sagged by 74% as earnings were hit by a 1.4 billion-euro set-aside for an antitrust fine from the European Commission and by higher up-front costs for new technology and factories.
If the Commission finds there is sufficient evidence of an infringement, it can adopt a decision prohibiting the conduct and imposing a fine of up to 10% of a company’s annual worldwide turnover.
On 2 May, the Commission said it 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.
“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,” said EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager.
The Commission later said in a statement that the investigation was “limited to an alleged violation of the competition law…not about possible breaches of environmental legislation”.