BMW, VW, Daimler colluded to fix diesel system prices, report alleges

Car stocks plummeted in Germany after the news broke.

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The diesel-car industry just can't catch a break. After it was announced that German automakers were recalling millions of cars to improve emissions, allegations of price-fixing have now been thrown into the mix.

BMW, Volkswagen Group and Daimler may have colluded to fix the price of certain diesel treatment systems, Germany's Der Spiegel reports, citing a letter sent to Germany's cartel authority. The letter, which allegedly came from Volkswagen, "admitted to possible anticompetitive behavior," according to Reuters.

That's not gone well.

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It's believed that approximately 200 employees from these three automakers discussed all manner of vehicle systems, including diesel engines and the exhaust treatment systems meant to keep them from overpolluting. These discussions also touched on supplier choice and component price, and they allegedly all agreed to use smaller AdBlue tanks.

VW, BMW and Daimler did not immediately return requests for comment. Daimler and Volkswagen declined to comment to Reuters, as did Germany's cartel authority.

This news comes hot on the heels of a different diesel development. Volkswagen Group and Daimler agreed to recall millions of diesel vehicles in Europe for a software flash that will seek to improve tailpipe emissions, which could help the companies avoid an outright diesel ban in the wake of Volkswagen's Dieselgate scandal.

Diesels make up a large chunk of European vehicle sales, due in part to tax breaks that help decrease the price of diesel fuel. Lately, there has been a push to move away from diesels and toward electrification, but that will take years to realize. In the meantime, at least in Europe, diesels won't be going anywhere -- except to the dealership, if they've been recalled. 

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