European Union targets BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen over anti-pollution technology

The pollution cartel probe comes as a fresh blow to the industry three years after dieselgate.

The EU opened an in-depth probe into alleged collusion by major German carmakers over anti-pollution technology 18 September, a fresh blow to the scandal-hit industry three years after the notorious 'dieselgate.'

Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen are suspected of agreeing "not to compete against each other on the development and roll-out" of anti-pollution systems for petrol and diesel passenger cars.

"If proven, this collusion may have denied consumers the opportunity to buy less polluting cars, despite the technology being available to the manufacturers," she added.

A new twist in the pollution saga exactly three years after dieselgate. Image: AFP

A new twist in the pollution saga exactly three years after dieselgate. Image: AFP

The probe lands three years to the day after shock revelations in the US that Volkswagen installed software in millions of its diesel vehicles around the world to cheat emissions tests.

The latest case does not involve these so-called "defeat devices", but instead focuses on the development of state-of-the-art control systems that reduce smog-causing pollution, such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.

The Commission said the probe was working with evidence of meetings and collusion by a group it called the "circle of five": BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen, in addition to Volkswagen units Audi and Porsche.

EU regulators working the investigation launched a series of raids a year ago in Germany.

Daimler and Volkswagen are widely reported to be putting themselves forward as whistle-blowers in the case, in order to win leniency with the EU authorities.

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