FILE PHOTO: EU flags flutter in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium October 2, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman
March 15, 2022
By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU antitrust regulators on Tuesday raided several automotive companies and associations in several countries on suspicion of breaching the bloc’s cartel rules.
The European Commission also sent companies requests for information, it said without disclosing company names.
“The inspections and requests for information concern possible collusion in relation to the collection, treatment and recovery of end-of-life cars and vans which are considered waste,” the EU competition enforcer said in a statement.
German carmaker BMW said it has received a request for information and would respond.
Mercedes Benz said it does not expect to be fined because it is a leniency applicant and is cooperating extensively with the Commission and the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Ford said in a statement that it had been served with a notice by CMA “relating to the recycling of old or written-off vehicles, specifically cars and vans, also known as end-of-life vehicles”.
“Given the situation is ongoing it would be inappropriate for us to say more at this stage except to state that we will fully cooperate with the CMA’s review,” the U.S. carmaker said.
Renault said it “confirms that it was visited today by European Commission investigators” and is cooperating fully.
Volkswagen and its premium brand Audi both declined to comment. Carmakers Stellantis and Ferrari did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The CMA also opened an investigation into a number of unnamed vehicle makers and some industry bodies and said it was cooperating with the Commission.
Companies found breaching EU cartel rules face fines up to 10% of their global turnover.
The Commission has in the past decade issued fines totalling about 2.2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) against car parts cartels dealing in products ranging from brakes to wire harnesses, seat belts and air bags.
($1 = 0.9105 euros)
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Additional reporting by Christina Amann and Ilona Wissenbach in Frankfurt, Ben Klayman in Detroit, Gilles Guillaume in Paris, Giulio Piovaccari in Milan and Nick Carey in London; Editing by David Goodman)