Business World

Thursday 13 December 2018

VW and Daimler raided by EU investigators as probe widens

Volkswagen has approved a €34bn spending plan that accelerates its efforts to become a global leader in electric cars. Stock photo: PA
Volkswagen has approved a €34bn spending plan that accelerates its efforts to become a global leader in electric cars. Stock photo: PA

Aoife White

Volkswagen and Daimler were inspected by European Union antitrust investigators as the EU stepped up a probe into allegations the German car industry colluded on technology for decades.

Just days after raiding BMW, EU antitrust officials visited Volkswagen's Wolfsburg headquarters and its Audi unit's offices in Ingoldstadt "as part of an announced review", VW said in a statement. Daimler also received "an announced visit" to its Stuttgart headquarters.

The deepening probe represents another challenge for the German car industry, which is grappling with the fallout of VW's diesel-cheating scandal and the disruptive shift to self-driving, electric cars.

Allegations emerged in July 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.

"The Volkswagen Group and the Group brands concerned have been cooperating fully and for a long time with the European Commission and have submitted a corresponding application" that might allow it to receive a reduction in any eventual fines, the company said. "It is not yet clear whether the European Commission will instigate formal proceedings."

The commission in Brussels said it visited the premises of several carmakers in Germany, accompanied by German antitrust officials. Regulators are concerned the companies may have violated antitrust rules, the EU said.

Daimler reported a possible cartel as part of the EU's leniency program that allows firms to dodge fines for being the first in line to report wrongdoing. (Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

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