VW Group, Daimler and BMW accused of cartel behavior

2015 Audi Q7 TDI

As investigations into diesel emissions cheating deepens, accusations have arisen that the Volkswagen Group, Daimler and the BMW Group may have colluded on development of diesel engines and other areas.

Germany’s Der Spiegel on Friday reported that the three automakers have since the 1990s met in secret to discuss the technology, cost and suppliers of various components, including those for controlling diesel emissions.

For example, one of the things discussed was said to be the size of DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) tanks, used to reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) in diesel vehicles. Large tanks would have been more expensive, so the automakers reportedly agreed on small tanks.

Der Spiegel cited a document submitted by Volkswagen in July 2016 and referenced another by Daimler. Germany’s Federal Cartel Office is yet to comment on the report.

The report was published on the same day that the Volkswagen Group said it was voluntarily recalling 850,000 cars from the Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen brands fitted with V-6 and V-8 diesel engines in all major markets except the U.S. and Canada. The recall, which involves a software fix, will reduce NOx emissions in real driving conditions beyond the current legal requirements, the automaker said.

The V-6 engine being recalled is the same one discovered by regulators in the United States to be fitted with emissions cheating software. Over here, the VW Group agreed to pay more than $20 billion in penalties and settlements and pleaded guilty to three felony charges due to the diesel scandal.

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The latest recall comes at a time when the VW Group is being investigated over allegations of fraud and false advertising relating to the diesel scandal in its home market of Germany. The investigations follow accusations by Germany’s official transport authority, the KBA, that some of the VW Group engines sold in Europe are fitted with emissions cheating software. The VW Group said in a statement it was working closely with the KBA in its investigation.

Meanwhile, over at Daimler, more than three million diesel vehicles, mostly from the Mercedes-Benz brand, were voluntarily recalled across Europe this week. The recall is an expansion of a recall from earlier this year for approximately 250,000 compact cars fitted with diesel engines.

Daimler’s recall also involves a software fix which the automaker says was developed using latest knowledge gained during the development of next-generation diesel engines. While Daimler also faces investigations in Europe as well as here in the U.S., the automaker insists the recall was initiated to make its existing diesels cleaner to alleviate any uncertainty owners may have over NOx levels. Also like the VW Group, Daimler is working in close cooperation with German authorities.

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