The EU has fined Volkswagen and BMW 875 million euros (£ 750 million) after discovering that German carmakers colluded with another rival, Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler, to delay cleaning technology. emissions.
The European Commission said automakers had “violated EU antitrust rules by collaborating on technical development in the area of nitrogen oxide cleaning.”
Volkswagen, the world’s largest automaker, will pay € 502 million, a reduction of more than half the original fine because it cooperated with the investigation. BMW will pay 372 million euros, an amount far less than the provision of more than one billion euros it had initially made. Daimler escaped without a fine because he had revealed the poster to the commission.
The fines are the latest blow to the German auto industry in relation to diesel pollution, after the “Dieselgate” cheating scandal, in which it was discovered that Volkswagen and Daimler had added software, known as deactivation devices, that during the Testing deliberately reduced emissions during testing. of nitrogen oxides harmful to human health. Volkswagen and Daimler have paid billions of euros in fines and damages.
The latest commission announcement said automakers had also worked together over a five-year period to delay more efficient technology to remove nitrogen oxides by adding urea (a chemical found in the urine of mammals that is sold as “AdBlue”) to the exhaust. While the process dramatically reduces diesel emissions, it reduces the performance of the engines.
Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen, in addition to VW’s Audi and Porsche brands, exchanged information on AdBlue tank sizes, meaning they didn’t have to worry about competing with each other for cleaner engines, the commission said.
Margrethe Vestager, the powerful executive vice president of the commission in charge of competition policy, said: “The five automakers Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche possessed the technology to reduce harmful emissions beyond what is legally required by EU emission standards.
“But they avoided competing in using the full potential of this technology to clean to higher standards than is required by law.”
Volkswagen said it can appeal after reviewing the commission’s decision. A spokesperson said the commission was “breaking new legal ground” because the collusion was not price-related and the content of the talks was never implemented, meaning that “clients were therefore never harmed.”
A Daimler spokesperson noted that the commission had found no evidence of collusion in the use of prohibited disablement devices.
Diesel scandals have raged for years, overshadowing efforts by automakers to clean up their image as sales of electric cars with zero exhaust emissions gradually increase, as part of efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. transport carbon.
However, automakers have also waged a rearguard campaign to try to delay the end of sales of profitable internal combustion engine cars, including diesels. Gasoline and diesel sales will be banned from 2035 in the UK, but the EU has yet to set a deadline for a total ban.
“Automakers cannot be trusted to clean cars,” said Julia Poliscanova, senior director for vehicles and electric mobility at Transport & Environment, a Brussels-based campaign group. “First they cheated on emissions tests, then they colluded to delay cleaner vehicles even though they had the technology. Just an EU goal of switching to 100% emission-free cars by 2035 will be enough to decarbonize by mid-century and avert a climate catastrophe. “
BMW was contacted for comment.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism