The European Commission has launched an antitrust investigation into the Volkswagen Group, BMW and Daimler. The investigation focuses on allegations the carmakers colluded to keep certain emissions control devices from reaching the market in Europe.
Allegedly, the carmakers held back technologies including a selective catalytic reduction system for diesel vehicles, which would help to reduce environmentally problematic oxides of nitrogen in passenger cars, and "Otto" particulate filters that trap particulate matter from gasoline combustion engines. In a statement Margrethe Vestager, head of competition policy for the European Commission, said ‘we are investigating whether BMW, Daimler and VW agreed not to compete against each other on the development and roll-out of important systems to reduce harmful emissions from petrol and diesel passenger cars.’ She added, ‘these technologies aim at making passenger cars less damaging to the environment. If proven, this collusion may have denied consumers the opportunity to buy less polluting cars, despite the technology being available to the manufacturers.’
According to the statement by the European Commission, the so-called ‘circle of five’ carmakers talked about a number of other subjects in its meetings, including the maximum speed at which convertible tops should open and close and the speeds at which cruise control would work. What penalties may ensue is not yet clear.