German vehicle manufacturers blamed for breaching European Union competition rules

Deutsche Umwelthilfe DHU- Diesel Verbot

BMW, Daimler and VW found guilty of emissions collusion

In "statements of objections" sent to the companies, the Commission said it believes the companies did in fact violate antitrust rules when they colluded during technical meetings that took place between 2006 and 2014.

Volkswagen said it would examine the European Union accusations before making any further comment.

In handing down a preliminary verdict, the Commission accused BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen of "blocking innovation and denying customers the opportunity to buy more environmentally friendly vehicles".

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"Companies can cooperate in many ways to improve the quality of their products".

The technology helps eliminate nitrogen oxides, which can be harmful to human health, from both gasoline and diesel passenger cars.

The circle of five was comprised of BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen Group's VW, Audi and Porsche, and is alleged to have aided collusion between 2006 and 2014. OPF technology is used on gas engines with direct injection to reduce emissions. Allegations of a cartel emerged in Germany's Spiegel magazine, which reported that VW, Daimler and BMW met starting in the 1990s to coordinate activities related to vehicle technology, costs, suppliers and strategy as well as diesel-emissions controls.

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The auto manufacturers have 10 weeks to respond and could face fines of billions of euros - up to 10% of their global annual turnover - if their explanations are rejected.

BMW has agreed to pay an 8.5 million-euro fine after an investigation found the company had installed the wrong emissions software in a limited number of vehicles by accident.

The EU noted that its preliminary findings do not prejudge the final outcome of the investigation. The parties can then examine the documents in the Commission's investigation file, reply in writing and request an oral hearing to present their comments on the case before representatives of the Commission and national competition authorities. According to the Commission, they could be forced to pay a fine equivalent to 10% of their annual global turnover if there's "sufficient evidence" that they broke the law.

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Unfortunately, there is no legal deadline for the proceedings to complete, and given recent history, it's likely that the German Big 3 will drag their feet on the issue, as they have with all other aspects of the dieselgate scandal. The duration of an antitrust investigation depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of the case, the extent to which the undertaking concerned cooperates with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence.

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