Competition - BMW and VW have to pay a cartel fine

The EU Commission has imposed competition fines in the three-digit million range totaling 875 million euros against the two German car manufacturers BMW and Volkswagen. Because of illegal agreements on so-called Adblue tanks for better emission control, BMW is to pay almost 375 million euros, Volkswagen a good 500 million euros, as the commission announced on Thursday.

Adblue tanks hold special urea solutions in newer generation of catalytic converters in diesel cars. The mixtures ensure more efficient exhaust gas cleaning and thus a reduction in harmful nitrogen oxide emissions. "All companies have admitted their participation in the cartel and agreed to a settlement," it said in a communication from the EU Commission.

This does not fully exhaust the possible sentence. In theory, payments of up to ten percent of annual sales can be due. As the third party in the league, Daimler does not have to pay anything because the Stuttgart-based company was the first to make itself available as a key witness - otherwise 727 million euros would have been due. At VW, the fine would have been around twice as high without a key witness discount.

Brussels is breaking new ground

BMW announced on Thursday that Brussels had entered "uncharted territory" in terms of antitrust law. The subject of the investigation was not price or area agreements - nevertheless, the EU Commission applied the standards of such a "classic" cartel when calculating the fine and only considered the novelty of the case by means of a discount. Despite the allegations that have largely been dropped, this approach leads to the amount of the fine that has now been set.

The Board of Management agreed to this fine with the present settlement. BMW had already promised this when the group had reduced the provisions for a penalty.

In 2019, BMW had set up a provision of 1,4 billion euros due to the allegations, of which around 1 billion euros had already been released in May of this year because the Commission had completely dropped certain allegations against BMW. (apa, reuters, dpa)