EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager announced Wednesday a decision to fine three different cartels that have helped make cars more expensive in Europe.
The fines for shipping companies that transport new vehicles to Europe and to suppliers of spark plugs and brake systems amounts to €546 million. Vestager explained that the cartels have damaged European consumers by raising transport and component costs while hurting the competitiveness of Europe’s automotive industry, which employs 12 million people across the EU.
“We do not tolerate any anti-competitive behaviour that affects European consumers and industries,” says Vestager.
According to reports, four separate vehicle transport companies will pay €395 million, two spark plug suppliers have been fined €76 million and suppliers of brake systems will pay €75 million for various violations of the bloc’s competition rules.
Maritime shipping companies including CSAV of Chile and Japan’s “K” Line, MOL, and NYK, as well as Norwegian-Swedish company WWL-EUKOR, had price agreements for the transport of new passenger cars, trucks, and agricultural vehicles from October 2006-September 2012. As a result, European importers and customers were financially disadvantaged, according to Vestager.
Japan’s Denso and NGK electronic companies formed a cartel with Bosch of Germany and from 2000 to 2011 to eliminate mutual competition between each other while supplying electronic components to car manufacturers in Europe.
Bosch also entered into an agreement with TRW from the US in 2010-2011 for the supply of both electronic and hydraulic brake systems that adversely affected car companies Daimler, BMW, and Volkswagen,
Wednesday’s decisions on the spark plug and braking system cartels are part of a series of major investigations into powerful lobbies in the automotive parts sector.
The European Commission has already fined suppliers of various automotive supplies, including bearings, car wire harnesses, flexible foam, parking heaters, alternators and starters, air conditioning and engine cooling systems, lighting, and safety systems.