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Auto cartel: EU confirms illegal agreements on exhaust technology

Frank Roeder
Car cartel from VW, BMW and Daimler
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The current situation regarding the car cartel

7 .4.2019: The BMW Group announced on April 6th that the company would set aside one billion euros for a fine that might be expected following EU antitrust proceedings. From the objections of the EU Commission that have now become known, the company derives the obligation to set up a provision according to the International Financial Reporting Standards. At the same time, the BMW Group announces that it will take all legal steps to counter the allegations of the EU.

April 5, 2019: As reported by several news sites, the EU competition authorities have now confirmed that the car companies VW, BMW and Daimler have illegally agreed. As the EU Commission reports, the agreements concerned technologies for exhaust gas cleaning. The companies that can now comment on the allegations face fines running into billions. According to the EU Commission, the behavior of the car manufacturers has restricted the competition for innovation in exhaust gas cleaning systems and thus denied consumers the opportunity to buy environmentally friendly vehicles. And that although they had the necessary technology. This is a violation of European antitrust law, although it was not about price fixing.

September 18, 2018: The European Commission has launched an in-depth investigation to check whether BMW, Daimler and the VW Group (Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche) have made agreements in violation of EU antitrust regulations in order not to be under competitive pressure in the development and introduction of systems to reduce emissions from gasoline and diesel cars. 'If this suspicion were to be true, the manufacturers would have denied consumers the opportunity to buy more environmentally friendly cars, even though the corresponding technologies were available,' said the EU Commission.

20.7. 2018: The 'Spiegel' reports that 'from further investigations by the EU competition commission on the so-called 5-series (Daimler, Volkswagen, BMW, Audi and Porsche)' it emerges that 'there are apparently also joint and successful meetings, the use of particle filters to avoid in gasoline engines and to fight stricter exhaust emission limits ”. Particle filters for gasoline engines are supposed to reduce the emission of fine dust. Especially fine dust from very small particles is considered to be hazardous to health.

According to 'Spiegel', the EU Commission found indications of agreements in the documents provided by the car companies themselves and in documents that were found during various house searches.

The heads of drive development of the car manufacturers are supposed to According to the minutes of their working groups, they decided in 2009: “The use of a particulate filter should absolutely be avoided in gasoline engines.” And they support “a common approach.” From meetings of the heads of development in June 2009, the “Spiegel” quotes as follows: “The goal Avoidance of a costly measure such as particle filter is confirmed by the E-Leiter. ”In addition,“ political lobbying in Brussels ”is said to have been commissioned to delay stricter limit values ​​for the emission of particles in gasoline engines for as long as possible.

The discussion about the technical measures with which the exhaust gas values, especially of gasoline engines with direct injection, fall below the stricter limit values ​​are to be pushed. For a long time it was by no means certain that gasoline-powered vehicles absolutely needed a particulate filter, which, however, was never part of the regulations. At the moment, however, the car manufacturers are having major problems because many car models measure the exhaust gas values ​​according to the new test cycle WLTP and exhaust gas measurements on the road (Real Driving Emissions, RDE) no longer meet. The new emission standard Euro 6d Temp applies from 1.9. 2018. The car manufacturers are therefore upgrading most models, often in the middle of the model cycle, and installing particle filters. For many models, this results in production delays and delivery bottlenecks, other types or variants are taken out of the range for the last part of a model cycle (such as the BMW M3), some remain deleted (due to a small proportion in the model mix).

7.8 .2017: EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger made it clear that if the allegations against the carmaker harden, there is a risk of “punishments that hurt”. Big names will not be considered, so Oettinger. “In the past ten years, the EU has punished nine cartel cases related to the automotive industry and imposed fines of around ten billion euros. That shows what order of magnitude it can be now, said the CDU politician of the 'Bild'.

6/8/2017: After another unveiling of the 'Spiegel', the German carmaker should start from 2006 Coordinated in detail with the supplier Bosch about the introduction of a new software function for AdBlue dosing. This emerges from the VW voluntary disclosure to the cartel authorities. According to this, Bosch added two modes to its basic software for engine control: a level operation with maximum AdBlue supply and maximum efficiency. Apparently he was supposed to ensure that admission tests were passed.In addition, so-called online dosing should be programmed. It was less efficient in cleaning exhaust gases. In an illegal variant, it could apparently also be used to achieve high ranges and thus compensate for the shortcoming of too small AdBlue tanks. In an e-mail from a VW employee, it is said that the dosing function is moving into “legal gray areas”. It is not known which manufacturer used the software functions.

Furthermore, VW is said to have left the US environmental authorities CARB and EPA in the dark about the real background to the introduction of the software function. 'Nobody wants to report the real motivation to the authorities (CARB, EPA)', it says in a VW email. When asked, BMW stated that the term online function should not be equated with impermissible reduction or illegal behavior, and that there was no impermissible switch between test and real operation at BMW. Daimler, VW and Bosch did not want to comment on the papers because of ongoing proceedings.

7/28/2017: According to information from Spiegel, there are also indications of involvement in the voluntary disclosure and the documents submitted by Volkswagen to the cartel authorities of the supplier Bosch. According to this, the Stuttgart electronics company is said to have helped to develop a “dosage strategy” for AdBlue. “Everyone wants a limitation of“ AdBlue injection ”because of the limited size of the urea tanks. Nobody wants to report the real motivation of this limitation to the authorities (CARB, EPA) ', the newspaper quotes a manager after the meeting of the 5er-Kreis with Bosch informed the members of the committee about the cartel allegations. According to the group, there have been no illegal cartel agreements. Instead, it is said that cooperation between car manufacturers in various areas is quite common. In addition, it is not objectionable when companies discussed the feasibility and standardization of new technologies. 'It is common worldwide for automakers to exchange ideas on technical issues in order to increase the speed and quality of innovation,' said a statement by the group.

July 26, 2017: VW submitted a voluntary disclosure to the authorities in July 2016.

July 26, 2017: At the presentation of the half-year balance sheet, Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche gave no further information: “We are well advised not to participate in speculation '.

July 26, 2017: BMW is suspending further talks about cooperation with Daimler. According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, this is based on Daimler's voluntary disclosure, which caused great irritation. 'The trust is totally damaged' , quoted the paper from industry circles. However, there is no board closure to break off the talks. For yearsBoth companies cooperate in purchasing, among other things. The expansion of a joint e-car charging network and an alliance of car sharing companies 'Car2Go' and 'Drive now' were planned for the future. The latter, however, will probably be pushed ahead.

July 25, 2017: Daimler filed the voluntary disclosure with the antitrust authorities as early as 2014.

July 24, 2017: Daimler is with his voluntary disclosure to the Federal Cartel Office , he probably got ahead of the competitor Volkswagen. After research by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, WDR and NDR, the Daimler Group turned to the competition watchdog much earlier. This means that the Stuttgart-based carmaker can hope for impunity if the Brussels EU Commission imposes fines. For VW then only a penalty reduction of a maximum of 50 percent is possible, but only if Volkswagen has presented further evidence.

July 24, 2017: The VW Supervisory Board will be on Wednesday (07/26/2017) to meet unscheduled to discuss the current situation.

07/23/2017: BMW comments on the reporting and rejects the “accusation that due to too small Ad Blue container an insufficient emission control in Euro 6 diesel vehicles of the BMW Group takes place, decided “back. While Euro 5 models receive a voluntary and free software update “in order to realize further emission reduction potentials”, there is no recall or retrofitting for Euro 6 models from the BMW Group. Regarding the alleged agreement with other manufacturers regarding Ad Blue tank sizes, BMW reports: “From the perspective of the BMW Group, discussions with other manufacturers about Ad Blue tanks aimed at establishing a refueling infrastructure in Europe.”

The background to the auto cartel

As the Spiegel reported on Friday (July 21, 2017), the German auto industry has been in secret working groups about technology, costs, suppliers and even exhaust gas cleaning since the 1990s Diesel vehicles have agreed. A voluntary disclosure by the VW Group to the competition authorities serves as proof of this, continues Der Spiegel.

VW, Audi, Por

should participate in the agreements

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