On April 5th, 2019, the European Commission has informed BMW, Daimler and VW (Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche) of its preliminary view that, from 2006 to 2014, they have colluded to restrict competition on the development of technology to clean the emissions of petrol and diesel passenger cars. According to the Commission, this collusion occurred in the framework of the car manufacturers’ so-called “circle of five” technical meetings.
In particular, the Commission has concerns on the following technologies:
- Selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems to reduce harmful nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions of diesel passenger cars through the injection of urea (also called “AdBlue”) in the exhaust gas stream. In the Commission’s preliminary view, the companies coordinated their AdBlue dosing strategies, AdBlue tank size and refill ranges between 2006 and 2014 with the common understanding that they thereby limited AdBlue-consumption and exhaust gas cleaning effectiveness;
- ‘Otto’ particle filters (OPF) to reduce harmful particle emissions from the exhaust gases of petrol passenger cars with direct injection. In the Commission’s view, the companies avoided or at least delayed the introduction of OPF in their new (direct injection) petrol passenger car models between 2009 and 2014 and removed uncertainty about their future market conduct.
According to the Commission, the car manufacturers breached art. 101 TFEU on the basis that they restricted competition on innovation for these two emission cleaning systems. These practices denied consumers the opportunity to buy less polluting cars, despite the technology being available to the manufacturers.