July 21 - The European Commission has found truck manufacturers - MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF - guilty of breaking EU antitrust rules, by colluding for 14 years on truck pricing and passing on the costs of compliance with stricter emission
The Commission has imposed a record fine of EUR2.93 billion (USD3.23 billion). MAN has not been fined as it revealed the existence of the cartel to the Commission. All companies have acknowledged their involvement and agreed to settle the case.
"It is not acceptable that MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF, which together account for around nine out of every ten medium and heavy trucks produced in Europe, were part of a cartel instead of competing with each other," said commissioner for competition, Margrethe Vestager.
"For 14 years they colluded on the pricing and on passing on the costs for meeting environmental standards to customers. This is also a clear message to companies that cartels are not accepted."
The companies involved were found to have coordinated prices at a "gross list" level - the factory price of the trucks, as set by each manufacturer - for medium and heavy trucks in the European Economic Area (EEA).
The cartel was also related to the timing for the introduction of emission technologies for medium and heavy trucks to comply with the increasingly strict European emissions standards; and the passing on to customers the costs for the emissions technologies required to comply with those standards.
The infringement lasted from 1997 to 2011, with meetings held by senior management teams at trade fairs and events, as well as on the phone, from 1997 to 2004. From 2004 onwards, the cartel was organised via the truck producers' German subsidiaries, with participants generally exchanging information electronically, said the Commission.
Proceedings were also opened with regard to Scania, which is not covered by this settlement decision. Therefore the investigation will continue under the standard (non-settlement) cartel procedure for this company.
While MAN receives full immunity from the Commission's fines, Volvo/Renault, Daimler and Iveco also benefit from fine reductions due to the timing of their cooperation and the extent to which the companies helped prove the existence of the cartel.
With reductions taken into account, Volvo/Renault will pay EUR650 million (USD716 million), Daimler will pay around EUR1 billion (USD1.1 billion), Iveco is fined EUR494 million (USD544 million), and DAF receives a fine of EUR752 million (USD828 million).
In response to the price fixing cartel, the UK's Road Haulage Association (RHA) said that there is "widespread anger among hauliers at the cartel and at the scale of the wrongdoing".
RHA chief executive Richard Burnett commented: "The truck manufacturers are our members' key suppliers and enjoy a partnership which is very often based on trust.
"Over the past 20 years the supply of lorries has become more complex with a range of finance deals and maintenance contracts built in by the manufacturers as part of the supply agreement to their customers.
"Hauliers will be angered to learn that at the same time there was a price-fixing cartel linked to the Euro-emission standards. It is reassuring to have confirmation that there was no cheating in terms of the Euro-emission testing process but that is of little comfort in terms of the price fixing."
MAN has not been fined as it blew the whistle on the price-fixing cartel.