The European Commission (EC) has fined the German carmakers BMW and Volkswagen a €875 million fine for forming a cartel. The carmakers, which also include the brands Mini, Audi and Porsche, have admitted that they have made agreements about nitrogen oxide emissions in new diesel cars. While there was a technique available to reduce those emissions, they didn’t take full advantage of it to compete with each other. That’s what the EC announced on Thursday.
According to the EC, the car manufacturers have had regular technical meetings over the course of five years to discuss the development of the so-called Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology. By injecting a mixture into the gas exhaust of diesel cars, nitrogen oxide emissions would be eliminated. But the car manufacturers together decided not to do more than what was legally stipulated.
Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes, was also found guilty of forming a cartel but avoided a fine because the company confessed to the agreements in Brussels. According to the Commission, Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche had technology to reduce harmful emissions well below the legal limit, but this did not happen. European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager of Competition says it is not acceptable for companies to collude in this way. She believes it is essential that companies compete and innovate when it comes to controlling pollution from the automotive industry. Only then can the European Union meet the goals of making Europe climate neutral by 2050, according to the European Commissioner: