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Lead Car Manufacturers Fined for Emissions Tech Collusion

The automotive industry has recently been in the crosshairs of environmental regulators, especially following Volkswagen’s involvement in the diesel emissions scandal that brought to light how some car manufacturers were not as 'green' as their diesel cars claimed to be. The saga continues as regulatory bodies dig deeper, unveiling yet another layer of misconduct among top car manufacturers.

Lead Car Manufacturers

In a dramatic turn of events reminiscent of Dieselgate, three major carmakers have been hit with hefty fines by the European Union. BMW, Volkswagen Group, and Daimler - the parent company of Mercedes-Benz - have been found guilty of collusion in holding back technology that could have reduced harmful emissions from diesel cars.

Dieselgate Scandal: A Tainted Legacy

The Dieselgate scandal notoriously uncovered in 2015 unmasked the deceitful practices of car manufacturers manipulating emission test results. This act of fraud resulted in the emission of harmful pollutants far beyond what is legally allowable, tricking both authorities and consumers and causing irreversible environmental and health damage.

The scandal primarily involved using ‘defeat devices’ to reduce emissions under test conditions, while regular operation witnessed a significant and illegal excess in nitrogen oxide (NOx) output. The backlash from this revelation has been ongoing, with billions in fines, vehicle recalls, diesel compensation claims, and a global questioning of diesel's viability as a sustainable fuel source. 

A Sit-Down That Cost Millions

In a landmark decision that resonates with environmental advocates and industry regulators worldwide, the European Union has fined major car manufacturers for collusion on emissions technology. The core of the controversy lies in the understanding that BMW, VW, and Daimler - three of the most prominent names in the automotive sector - deliberately avoided competing in developing and rolling out essential emissions-cleaning technology.

At its core, the AdBlue technology at the centre of this collusion was geared towards reducing harmful NOx emissions from diesel-powered vehicles. The deliberate act to hinder the application of this technology has potential repercussions on air quality and public health. Concerns among health advocates are mounting as these actions potentially delay advancements in cleaner vehicular emissions, posing health risks to populations across congested urban centres.

These activities, which occurred over five years from 2009 to 2014, breached EU antitrust rules, resulting in fines amounting to £750 million for BMW and Volkswagen Group. Daimler avoided a £624 million fine from the commission by receiving immunity for exposing the cartel's existence. Legally, the fine imposed reflects the gravity of breaching EU antitrust laws. Ethically, it raises questions about the social responsibility of corporations in light of the global climate crisis and the urgency to lower pollution levels. It is a reminder that industries have a pivotal role in advancing, not hindering, green technology.

European Union antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager stated that for the first time, cooperation on technical aspects, instead of price fixing or market sharing, was deemed cartel behaviour by the commission. All companies involved accepted their role in the cartel and settled the case.

She emphasised that millions of new diesel cars are sold yearly in Europe, amounting to billions of Euros, with many more already in operation. Both car users and citizens must trust that manufacturers compete to decrease harmful emissions from vehicles. However, these companies failed to meet these essential expectations.

The Response from Car Manufacturers

BMW stated that the European Commission dropped most antitrust violation charges and agreed to settle to conclude proceedings. The commission's investigation focused on competition law and found no evidence of using 'defeat devices' to cheat emissions tests. BMW emphasised they never contemplated illegal emission control, unlike some competitors.

On the other hand, Volkswagen is contemplating appealing its fine, indicating concerns over the commission's novel approach in considering technical cooperation as an antitrust violation for the first time.

The Future of Emissions Technology and Policy Reform

This case may catalyse policy reform, prompting tighter regulations and oversight on emissions technology. Policymakers are now challenged to reassess the robustness of current legislation in preventing such collusions and ensuring that the automotive industry aligns its practices with the broader goals of sustainability and public health protection.

The story serves as a call to action for car manufacturers to prioritise transparent innovation and competition. Openly striving for advancements in emissions technology is crucial for compliance and the industry's long-term viability and contribution to societal welfare.

Consumers and environmental advocacy groups can leverage these developments to demand higher standards and hold car manufacturers accountable for diesel claims. Increased pressure and public scrutiny might be vital in steering the industry towards more sustainable practices. Go to to learn more about the ways you can combat diesel emissions as a consumer.

The fines levied against these leading car manufacturers merely reflect a broader need for change. With the support of environmental advocates and the public, the industry must drive forward into a future where health and the environment are at the forefront of technological advancements.

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