German automakers may have colluded to fix prices of emissions treatment systems, report says

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An AdBlue urea solution injected into the exhaust-gas stream reduces NOx emissions. The Mercedes G class BlueTEC version has an AdBlue filler cap next to the fuel cap.

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Reuters
July 21, 2017 15:20 CET — UPDATED: July 21 16:35 CET – adds analyst comment

FRANKFURT — Volkswagen, Audi, BMW and Porsche may have colluded to fix the prices of diesel emissions treatment systems using industry committees, German magazine Der Spiegel reported.

“This new chapter in the diesel saga needs to be taken seriously,” Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst said in a note to investors. “Our conclusion is that there might be a risk of several hundred millions or even low billions.”

About 200 employees sitting in 60 industry committees discussed vehicle development, brakes, gasoline and diesel engines, clutches and transmissions as well as exhaust treatment systems, Der Spiegel reported on Friday, citing a letter sent to cartel authorities.

Volkswagen admitted to possible anti-competitive behavior in a letter it sent to cartel authorities on July 4, Der Spiegel said.

The carmakers discussed their choice of suppliers and the price of components. Since 2006, the carmakers have also discussed the cost of AdBlue, an exhaust emissions treatment system for diesel engines, it said.

They discussed details such as the sizing of tanks for diesel emissions treatment fluid and they agreed to use smaller rather than larger ones, Der Spiegel said.

Daimler, which owns the Mercedes-Benz brand, declined to comment.

A spokesman for Volkswagen Group, which owns the Porsche and Audi brands, also declined to comment. BMW was not available for immediate comment.

Germany’s cartel authority declined to comment on the report, which sent car stocks tumbling on Friday.

Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW shares were down 3.9 percent, 2.7 percent and 2.8 percent respectively, underperforming Germany’s blue-chip DAX index which was down 1.9 percent by 1401 GMT.

The Stoxx 600 autos index was down 3.1 percent.

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