Whistleblower Daimler escaped without a fine.
It's been two years since German automakers Daimler, BMW, and the VW Group were charged over emissions collusion. At the time, it was suggested that considerable fines could be on the way for the companies as emission regulations get progressively tighter. Well, it's now official - the European Commission has fined Volkswagen and BMW the combined sum of 875 million euros or around $1 billion. This fine was for colluding to restrict the use of emissions cleaning technology that had been developed. Although Daimler was also part of the cartel, it escaped a fine for revealing its existence in the first place.
Volkswagen must now pay a fine of 502 million euros ($595 million) and BMW's portion works out to 373 million euros ($442 million). Margrethe Vestager, European Union antitrust chief, said that the involved German companies had the technology in place that could reduce vehicle emissions more than was required by EU law but instead, they avoided competing to do so.
Specifically, the 2019 charge pointed out how the automakers colluded to limit the size of AdBlue tanks between 2006 and 2014. This AdBlue solution does the job of neutralizing damaging pollutants in diesel cars. So, although the technology was in place to make cleaner cars, the companies agreed not to compete in this area.
"This is a first," said Vestager. "We have never had a cartel whose purpose was to restrict the use of novel technology. Today's decision is about how legitimate technical cooperation went wrong. And we do not tolerate it when companies collude."
Vestager further said that the various parties acknowledged their role in the cartel. However, VW may take legal action and BMW was quick to point out that it was not guilty of using cheat devices to pass emissions tests, as was the case with Dieselgate. In the latter scandal, VW had to cough up $38 billion for vehicles affected, including the likes of the Golf and Passat.