The European Commission launched what it called a “thorough investigation” to determine if the BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen Group agreed to avoid competing against one another in developing emissions reduction technology.
The Commission says that such an agreement would be in violation of European Union antitrust rules. The launch of the inquiry follows guaranteed inspections, BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen and Audi premises in Germany in the month of October last year.
Margrethe Vestager, commissioner in charge of competition policy, said: “The Commission is examining whether BMW, Daimler and volkswagen decided not to compete against one another on the development and dissemination of important systems to reduce harmful emissions from gasoline and diesel passenger cars.
“These technologies aim is to motor vehicles and less harmful to the environment. If proven, this collusion may have denied consumers the ability to buy less polluting cars, despite the technology being available to the producers.”
In a statement, the Commission said that the investigation will centre on whether the officials of BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche – the so-called ‘circle of five’ – took part in meetings during which they agreed to restrict the development and the introduction of a number of emission control systems – mainly selective catalytic reduction systems and ‘Eight’ of particulate filters for vehicles sold in the European Economic Area.
That would constitute a violation of Article 101 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union, which prohibits business practices that restrict the control of the technical development.The Commission said it had “indications” that the companies involved, collusion between them, in a sort of illegal defeat devices of the Volkswagen was found guilty of use in dieselgate scandal.