The European Commission has accused German carmakers Volkswagen (VW), Daimler and BMW of illegal collusion to restrict the development of technology to clean up emissions from cars, news reports say.
By not competing on quality, the auto giants may have denied European consumers the opportunity to buy cars with the best emissions technology, according to preliminary findings of the commission’s ongoing investigation.
This collusion, the commission says, is a clear breach of EU’s antitrust rules from 2006 to 2014.
The commission’s investigation focused on whether the carmakers violated cartel laws by blocking development of technology for filtering nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel cars and harmful soot particles from petrol engines.
The commission can impose a fine of up to 10% of each company’s annual turnover.
The investigations followed raids conducted by the commission on several offices of the three companies in 2017.
The carmakers can respond to the commission’s findings.
BMW told media that it would fight the case and, at the same time, set aside $1.12 billion for fine.
Daimler said it is unlikely to be fined since the company has cooperated with the commission’s investigations from an early stage.
VW said it will respond after going through the findings.
The carmakers, particularly VW, were caught in another emission scandal in 2015 after it was found that they cheated on diesel emission tests using some devices.
The three companies were under fire last year for using humans and monkeys to test diesel fumes.