EU Fines Volkswagen and BMW Nearly $1 Billion for Emissions Secrecy

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Germany’s three largest automakers have illegally cooperated to limit the effectiveness of their emissions technologies, resulting in higher levels of harmful diesel pollution, European antitrust officials said on Thursday.

Volkswagen and the Porsche and Audi divisions must pay 500 million euros or 590 million euros, and BMW will pay 373 million euros or 442 million euros as part of the deal with the European Commission regarding the cartel. Daimler avoided a total fine of 727 million euros for blowing the whistle in the conspiracy. European Commission I said.

Another blow to the settlement image German car manufacturersdominating the high point of the automobile market but later losing some of their brilliance Volkswagen He admitted that the millions of cars he built in 2015 were equipped with software designed to fool official emissions testers.

Daimler and BMW have been tainted by the diesel scandal the European Commission blamed on them in 2017. illegally contracting with Volkswagen about specifications for emission purification technology. These accusations led to a settlement on Thursday.

The European Commission, the administrative arm of the European Union, has not accused automakers of agreeing to use illegal technology. Instead, he said, they consider it illegal to use emissions technology that meets minimum legal standards but isn’t as good as it could be.

The commission said, among other things, that automakers agreed to limit the size of tanks used to hold a chemical known as AdBlue, which neutralizes harmful nitrogen oxides in diesel emissions. Larger tanks would do a better job of reducing pollution, but take up space, which companies prefer to use for speakers or other amenities.

“For over five years, automakers have deliberately avoided competing on cleanliness better than required by EU emissions standards,” said Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s competition commissioner. “And they did it despite the relevant technology being available.”

Volkswagen Since then, it has paid over $20 billion in fines and legal settlements related to diesel emissions fraud. Daimler admitted last year Mercedes-Benz The cars were also programmed to cheat on emissions tests and paid $2.2 billion as part of a settlement with US officials. Sales of diesel vehicles, which once accounted for more than half of new cars sold in Europe, have fallen.

BMW portrayed the deal as justification because it didn’t accuse the company of committing emissions cheating, which it has consistently denied. The fine was lower than expected and freed BMW of the €1 billion it had set aside to cover fines related to the cartel lawsuit.

“Unlike some of its competitors, the BMW Group has never considered reduced, illegal emissions control,” the company said in a statement. BMW said the conversation with other automakers “had no impact on the company’s product decisions.”

Daimler said it was cooperating with the investigation. “The European Commission has found no clear evidence of any agreement regarding the use of prohibited defeat devices,” the company said in a statement.

Volkswagen agreed to the deal, but said it was considering challenging some aspects of it that are permitted under European Union law.

“The Commission is breaking new legal ground with this decision, as it is the first time it is prosecuting technical cooperation as an antitrust violation,” Volkswagen said in a statement. “Although the content of the conversations is never enforced and therefore never harmed clients, it also pays fines.”

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