According to news reports, several German automakers held secret meetings to discuss “clean diesel” technology, costs, suppliers, and pricing. Their activity was conspiratorial and likely violated a number of laws.
Vehicle manufacturers named in the investigation include:
- Volkswagen and Daimler
Decades-long Conspiracy among German Automakers
According to investigators, the conspiracy among German car makers spans two decades. Those familiar with the collusion have coined the group a “cartel.” Their activities included secret meetings in which the manufacturers discussed development and shared information, all in an effort to inflate the cost of their vehicles.
In addition to collusion concerning body design and supplier information, the automakers are accused of discussions concerning diesel emissions technology.
Diesel engines emit a toxic and potentially fatal chemical. These engines are helpful for reducing fuel consumption, but the pollution they produce is expensive and risky.
The chemical addition of AdBlue can neutralize emissions and make diesel engines safer, but it must be used properly. To limit their costs, car makers put AdBlue in gas tanks that were below size regulations, which actually increased pollution from the engines. The automakers then agreed to limit the size of their tanks in an effort to evade US regulators.
Auto Manufacturers Break Laws
According to reports, the automakers named in the conspiracy violated federal and state anti-trust and unfair competition laws. Evidence shows this might have been happening since the 1990s.
Investigators revealed that at least 1000 meetings occurred during a five-year period and involved more than 200 employees of the companies involved.
Evidence Reveals Automakers Colluded with Top Supplier
Volkswagen was arguably affected most by the investigation. According to reports, the investigation and criminal settlement in the United States has cost the company more than $25 billion. The company’s software allowed it to cheat pollution regulatory standards under testing conditions, but did not perform the same when vehicles were actually on roads.
Volkswagen agreed to cooperate with the investigation, and recently the company provided documents showing collusion between Germany’s top automakers and supplier Robert Bosch. According to those familiar with the investigation, Bosch may have helped car makers devise a “dosage” strategy that would limit the consumption of AdBlue diesel emissions.
Owners and Lessees Could Receive Compensation
If you owned or leased one of the vehicles made by the car makers listed above, you could be entitled to compensation. US law allows plaintiffs to recover compensation for over-pricing and other harmful practices companies use to collude and avoid competition.
Seeger Weiss is currently investigating a potential class action against antitrust and consumer protection claims on behalf of owners of these vehicles. If you owned or leased a vehicle from Audi, BMW, Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, or Porsche in the United States, you might be eligible to join the potential class.