EU Commission issues €34m car equipment cartel fine

EPA / JEFF KOWALSKY

A Takata brand air bag inflators after it was removed during the recall service is shown at Suburban Honda in Farmington Hills, Michigan, USA, 27 May 2015.

EU Commission issues €34m car equipment cartel fine


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The European Commission has decided to fine five companies a total of €34m for a cartel on items such as seatbelts and airbags. The five are Tokai Rika, Takata, Autoliv, Toyoda Gosei and Marutaka, which supplied parts to Japanese car manufacturers.

“We do not accept cartels that affect the European consumers, even if the cartel is organised outside Europe,” Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said on Wednesday.

The companies mentioned above took part in one or more of four cartels for the supply of car seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels to Japanese car manufacturers in the European Economic Area (EEA). According to the EU executive, all suppliers acknowledged their involvement in the cartels, agreeing to settle the case and therefore to lower the fines imposed. All companies but Takata were fined, as the company revealed all three cartels to the European Commission.

The five car component suppliers addressed in this decision coordinated prices or markets, and exchanged sensitive information for the supply of seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels to Japanese car manufacturers Toyota, Suzuki and Honda in the EEA. According to the research, the coordination of the cartel took place in Japan through meetings at the suppliers’ business premises but also in restaurants and hotels, as well as through e-mail exchanges.

The four cartels that the Commission announced, are the following:

Supplier (group)

Scope

Start

End

1

• Tokai Rika

•Takata

•Autoliv

•Marutaka

Sales of seatbelts to Toyota

6/07/2004 – Tokai Rika, Takata, Marutaka 18/12/2006 – Autoliv

15/04/2009- Marutaka

11/02/2010- Tokai Rika

25/03/2010- Takata, Autoliv

2

• Takata

•Autoliv

•Toyoda Gosei

Sales of airbags to Toyota

14/06/2005- Takata, Toyoda Gosei

18/07/2006 – Autoliv

15/07/2009- Toyoda Gosei

26/07/2010- Takata, Autoliv

3

• Takata

•Tokai Rika

Sales of seatbelts to Suzuki

14/02/2008

18/03/2010

4

• Takata

•Autoliv

Sales of seatbelts, airbags and steering wheels to Honda

28/03/2006

22/05/2010

As the cartels may have had a significant effect on European customers since around one out of every eleven cars sold in Europe is produced by a Japanese company and all Japanese car companies affected by the cartel have manufacturing plants in the EEA, the Europan Commission decided to fine the companies as follows:

Takata received full immunity for revealing three of the cartels (thereby avoiding an aggregate fine of ca. € 74 million), while Tokai Rika received full immunity for revealing one of the cartels (thereby avoiding an aggregate fine of ca. € 15 million). All companies that got fined, were benefited from reductions of their fines for their cooperation with the Commission investigation. The breakdown of the fines imposed on each company is as follows:

Supplier (group)

Reduction under Leniency Notice

Reduction under Settlement Notice

Fine (€)

1

Tokai Rika

Takata

Autoliv

Marutaka

100%

50%

30%

0%

10%

10%

10%

10%

0

12 724 000

265 000

156 000

2

Takata

Autoliv

Toyoda Gosei

100%

50%

28%

10%

10%

10%

0

4 957 000

11 262 000

3

Takata

Tokai Rika

100%

46%

10%

10%

0

1 818 000

4

Takata

Autoliv

100%

50%

10%

10%

0

2 829 000

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