BMW and Daimler, along with Volkswagen and subsidiaries Porsche and Audi are the focus of renewed interest by European Union regulators, with a fresh investigation kicking off a year after corporate offices of the various automakers were raided. The European Commission overseeing the investigation is being expectedly coy with their words, saying that while there is no evidence of the aforementioned firms having engaged in anti-competitive collusion to delay the implementation of new emissions technology, EU antitrust laws are broad and leave plenty of room to advance charges for lesser offenses, and an investigation has been launched to find out exactly what, if anything, took place between the so-called circle of five industry-leading automakers.
The headlines reporting on the launch of the new investigation broke not long after we reported on news of BMW nixing the remaining diesel models from their US lineup for the 2019 model year. Making things even more interesting is the fact that the removal of the diesel offerings came on the heels of a diesel-focused EU fine being handed down to BMW for engine control software having been installed on the wrong models. The ten million euro fine came with no related accusations of fraud of manipulation, but the timeline of events remains nonetheless peculiar.
Everything being discussed here remains preliminary with many details still unreleased or unknown, but the underlying suspicions seem to equate to the following: BMW, along with other market-dominating European auto manufacturers including Daimler, VW, Porsche and Audi may have met with intent to collude against the introduction and implementation of emissions-reducing concepts and systems. Technologies like selective catalytic reduction systems and Otto particulate matter filters are being named, along with an assertion that could translate to the previously mentioned companies having worked together in an effort to stall or prevent market and customer access to them.
Again, although no real accusations are being thrown, but a new investigation will always send rumors flying. We’ll be monitoring developments closely, and will continue reporting on new happenings as they break.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]