Some of the world’s largest and best-known car manufacturers have illegally colluded over emissions technology.
On 8 July 2021, the European Commission published findings that Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz were guilty of breaking EU antitrust rules by colluding to prevent the deployment of clean emissions technology.
Volkswagen and BMW have been fined a total of €875 million for breaking EU rules. But for Daimler’s (the parent company of Mercedes-Benz) assistance with the Commission’s investigation, it would also have been fined €727 million.
An environmental and human health scandal
The result of this car cartel has been the release of higher levels of harmful diesel pollution in our atmosphere. Such fumes are associated with significant adverse human health effects.
While the true cost is yet unknown, it is estimated that VW’s cheating alone will lead to some 1,200 premature deaths. The total number of “life-years lost” is said to be 13,000, and there has been a €1.9 billion price tag attached to those life-years lost. Car pollutants also result in both immediate and long-term damage to the environment. Nitrous oxide contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer and contaminates natural ecosystems.
Did the manufacturers get away lightly?
With automakers colluding to restrict competition over this issue, the deployment of cleaner emissions technology has undoubtedly been delayed. This is an environmental and human health scandal. Especially as, according to Margrethe Vestager, executive VP of the EU Commission:
“The five car manufacturers Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche possessed the technology to reduce harmful emissions beyond what was legally required under EU emission standards, but they avoided to compete on using this technology’s full potential to clean better than what is required by law.”
In this case, the manufacturers were not found guilty of agreeing to deploy illegal technology but of illegally colluding to use emissions technology that met the bare minimum legal standards. In a separate case, the manufacturers are also accused of fitting illegal defeat devices – designed to trick emissions testing – into their vehicles.
In total, Volkswagen (which owns Audi and Porsche) will pay around €500 million, while BMW will pay €373 million. To put that into perspective, Volkswagen made a net profit of over €10 billion last year while BMW made around €3.9 billion.
The car manufacturers have acknowledged their involvement and agreed to settle, although Volkswagen is considering appealing some aspects of the judgement. Daimler has escaped a fine by whistleblowing on the collusion.
Do you have a dieselgate claim?
In addition to colluding over emissions technology, we believe that these manufacturers deliberately fitted some diesel vehicles with software that could detect when they were being emissions tested and change their performance to improve results.
The affected vehicles are likely worth less than the drivers paid for them. Drivers may also have experienced higher fuel bills and maintenance costs. In total, millions of vehicles have been affected by this scandal and subjected to recall.
We are holding car manufacturers to account for cheating the system, harming the environment, and lying to their customers.
If you own or lease a diesel vehicle (or have done in the past), use our quick online checker to see if you are eligible to claim.