Daimler, parent company of Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, has spent years illegally colluding to slow the deployment of cleaner emissions technology, said the European Union, which is inflicting fines accordingly.
The EU executive on Thursday imposed a collective fine of 875 million euros ($ 1 billion) on the Volkswagen group (which owns Audi and Porsche) and BMW for their role in the scheme. The Volkswagen Group is to pay 502 million euros ($ 595 million), while BMW will pay 373 million euros ($ 442 million). Daimler, however, escaped a € 727 million fine because the automaker disclosed the collusion to regulators.
The program described by EU authorities is separate from the huge Volkswagen Group Dieselgate scandal, in which the company installed software on its diesel vehicles that helped environmental regulators believe they were compliant, while the company installed software on its diesel vehicles. ‘in fact, they polluted much more than the legal limit. . The dieselgate ultimately led to nearly $ 40 billion in fines, buyouts and legal fees for the Volkswagen Group. Daimler also installed software on some of its diesel vehicles to trick emissions tests and paid billions of dollars in fines. BMW was careful to point out Thursday that, unlike other companies with which it was colluded, it had not cheated on emissions tests.
The existence of this so-called broadcast cartel was first revealed in an explosive July 2017 report from The mirror, who said the collusion around diesel emissions dates back to the 1990s. The companies met in secret working groups to discuss “the technology, the costs, the suppliers and even the purification of exhaust gases from its diesel vehicles, ”the outlet reported at the time. At the same time, EU authorities announced an investigation into the allegations and began raiding the headquarters of car manufacturers for evidence. Daimler claimed whistleblower status in October of the same year.
The EU formally accused the companies of collusion in 2019. The behavior taken into account for the fines announced on Thursday took place between 2009-2014.
The “exhaust gas purification” of diesel vehicles mentioned in the original The mirror report is at the center of the fines the EU imposed on Thursday. Specifically, authorities say the Volkswagen Group, BMW and Daimler have agreed on details such as the size of the tanks used to house AdBlue, a common solution that mixes with the exhaust fumes of a car. diesel car to neutralize harmful pollutants. In doing so, authorities argue that automakers had the technology to make cleaner cars, but have effectively agreed not to compete on this issue.
“The five automakers Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche possessed the technology to reduce harmful emissions beyond what was legally required by EU emission standards,” wrote the executive branch of the ‘EU in a press release. “But they avoided competing by using the full potential of this technology to clean better than what is required by law. Today’s decision is therefore about how legitimate technical cooperation has gone wrong. And we don’t tolerate it when companies get along.
The Volkswagen Group, which has a documented history of lying about its emissions compliance regulations at this point, said in a statement that “the content of the talks has never been implemented and customers have never were therefore never harmed ”and declared that larger AdBlue tanks were eventually used. .
As for some of the other allegations that originally surfaced in the The mirror report on collusion spreading to vendors and other technologies, EU authorities had already “narrowed down the initial scope of its investigation to ensure its accusations remain blocked”, according to Reuters. The settlement agreement announced Thursday will not make a huge dent in the bottom line of the Volkswagen Group or BMW. The Volkswagen Group made nearly 12 billion euros, or about 14 billion dollars, in profit before tax in 2020, while BMW recorded 5 billion euros, or just over 6 billion dollars.