BMW, Daimler along with also Volkswagen Face Collusion Investigation in Europe

Germany’s biggest carmakers were already facing public criticism after an emissions cheating scandal at Volkswagen. right now, they are under formal investigation.

The European Commission opened an inquiry on Tuesday into possible collusion among BMW, Daimler along with also Volkswagen to prevent the development of clean emissions technology. The investigation adds to a series of problems for the German auto industry, the country’s biggest employer along with also exporter, which will be grappling with the consequences of Volkswagen’s diesel deception, as well as a long-term shift toward electric vehicles along with also the threat of auto tariffs through the United States.

The announcement by the commission, the European Union’s executive arm, comes nearly a year after officials searched the German automakers’ offices as part of an initial inquiry into possible cost fixing. The commission said on Tuesday which which had information indicating which the companies had participated in meetings where they discussed technology to limit harmful emissions. The investigation will try to establish whether the automakers sought to limit the development or rollout of systems to reduce harmful nitrogen oxide emissions through diesel cars or filters to reduce emissions through gasoline engine cars.

“These technologies aim at doing passenger cars less damaging to the environment,” Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s competition commissioner, said in a statement. “If proven, which collusion may have denied consumers the opportunity to buy less-polluting cars, despite the technology being available to the manufacturers.”

The commission said which had no information indicating which the companies had coordinated over the use of illegal defeat devices in regulatory testing. German carmakers meet routinely to discuss technical standards for components, yet these discussions might be deemed illegal if they agree to limit competition in certain areas.

In its statement, the commission named the three major carmakers, as well as the Volkswagen luxury units Audi along with also Porsche, as part of the inquiry. All three companies said they could not be commenting on the case, yet were cooperating with investigators.

The companies — the commission referred to them as the “circle of all 5” — have spent decades promoting diesel engines, along with also are still struggling with the fallout of the emissions scandal in which some 11 million Volkswagen vehicles worldwide were fitted with illegal software which could detect when the cars were undergoing emissions tests.

As a result, sales of diesel cars across Europe have been falling, while sales of electric cars are growing sharply, a trend which German carmakers have been slow to capitalize on. BMW, Daimler along with also Volkswagen could also suffer if President Trump follows through on a threat to impose hefty tariffs on European cars imported into the United States.

Volkswagen, which has admitted to the cheating, in particular has not made sufficient progress in repairing the shortcomings in company culture which led to the scandal, according to a recent report by a lawyer appointed to monitor the company’s behavior.