EU fines German car cartel $1B over emissions collusion, but spares Daimler for snitching

The EU has slapped four leading German carmakers with a combined fine of $1 billion (€875 million) for colluding to prevent the deployment of clean emissions technology.

Up front: The European Commission ruled that Daimler, BMW, and the Volkswagen Group (Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche) had collectively agreed to limit the development of tech that could restrict pollution from gasoline and diesel cars. 

Daimler, however, avoided a fine after revealing the group’s existence. 

Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President of the Commission, said the collusion broke EU antitrust rules:

The five car manufacturers Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche possessed the technology to reduce harmful emissions beyond what was legally required under EU emission standards. But they avoided to compete on using this technology’s full potential to clean better than what is required by law.

Total fine of €875 million to @BMW@Porsche@AudiOfficial@VW@Daimler for illegally colluding to restrict competition on emission cleaning technology for diesel cars. There are legitimate pro-competitive reasons to cooperate, but this went wrong! More:

— Margrethe Vestager (@vestager) July 8, 2021

The VW Group received the majority of the fine — $594m (€502m) — while BMW got the remaining $594m (€373m).

Quick take: A $1 billion fine is obviously no small sum, but still less than some carmakers had feared. According to the Financial Times, BMW alone had initially set aside $1.67 bn (€1.4bn) for the proceedings.

The fines are also low compared to those dished out during Dieselgate. Volkswagen says the emissions scandal has cost it a total of $37bn (31.3bn) in fines and settlements.


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Thomas Macaulay