BMW, Daimler, and VW Colluded to Prevent Better Emissions Control Tech, EU Says

Diesel and gas cars were affected by alleged agreements to limit emissions tech.

By Megan Geuss and cross-posted from Ars Technica

On Friday, the European Union Commission accused BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen Group (which makes VW, Audi, and Porsche vehicles) of colluding to limit emissions reduction technology in their diesel and gas vehicles.

The commission accused the three manufacturers of coordinating to limit the size and refill ranges of AdBlue tanks on their diesel vehicles made between 2006 and 2014. AdBlue is a urea-based liquid that is injected into exhaust gas to reduce the amount of nitrogen oxides (NOx) that are released during diesel combustion.

The commission also accused the three manufacturers of agreeing to avoid or delay the introduction of “Otto” particulate filters on gas-powered vehicles between 2009 and 2014.

Concerns about collusion

After opening an investigation last September, the EU Commission today sent the three German automakers Statements of Objections, that is, a formal letter outlining the preliminary view that the manufacturers’ behavior was illegal.

“Such market behavior, if confirmed… would violate EU competition rules prohibiting cartel agreements to limit or control production, markets or technical development,” an EU Commission press release read.

The potentially illegal activity isn’t related to Volkswagen Group’s diesel scandal that broke in 2015. In that debacle, the automaker illegally told governments that its diesel vehicles were better at reducing harmful emissions than the vehicles actually were. This time, the EU Commission isn’t accusing BMW, Daimler, or VW Group of violating any environmental laws (though their alleged actions likely had significant environmental impacts). Instead, the commission is accusing the auto manufacturers of violating laws pertaining to competition among different firms…

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