Article: Volkswagen and BMW are fined nearly $1 billion for colluding on emissions technology
By Jack Ewing
Germany’s three largest carmakers colluded illegally to limit the effectiveness of their emissions technology, leading to higher levels of harmful diesel pollution, European antitrust authorities said Thursday.
Volkswagen and its Porsche and Audi divisions must pay 500 million euros, or $590 million, and BMW will pay €373 million, or $442 million, as part of a settlement with the European Commission related to the cartel. Daimler avoided a fine that would have totaled €727 million because it blew the whistle on the plot, the European Commission said.
The settlement is another blow to the image of the German automakers, which dominate the high end of the car market but have lost some of their luster after Volkswagen admitted in 2015 that millions of cars it produced were fitted with software designed to dupe official emissions testers.
Daimler and BMW became tainted by the diesel scandal after the European Commission accused them in 2017 of illegally agreeing with Volkswagen on specifications for emissions treatment technology. Those accusations led to the settlement on Thursday.
The European Commission, the European Union’s administrative arm, did not accuse the carmakers of agreeing to deploy illegal technology. Rather, it said they had illegally agreed to deploy emissions technology that met minimum legal standards but was not as good as it could have been.
Among other things, the carmakers agreed to limit the size of the tanks used to hold a chemical, known as AdBlue, that neutralizes harmful nitrogen oxides in diesel emissions, the commission said. Larger tanks would have done a better job reducing pollution but taken space that companies preferred to use for audio speakers or other amenities.
“For over five years, the car manufacturers deliberately avoided to compete on cleaning better than what was required by E.U. emission standards,” Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s competition commissioner, said in a statement. “And they did it despite the relevant technology being available.”