The European Commission has fined two European and four Japanese car parts manufacturers 953 million euros (£794 million) in a settlement over price fixing.
The companies had secretly coordinated their pricing strategies for automotive bearings between April 2004 and July 2011, the commission said.
"This is not a component of minor importance," said EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, adding that an average car contains 100 to 150 bearings, creating a European market worth at least 2 billion euros annually.
The highest share of the fine goes to Germany‘s Schaeffler, which must pay almost 370.5 million euros, while Swedish manufacturer SKF was fined 315 million euros.
Japanese companies NTN, NSK and NFC face fines totalling almost 268 million euros.
A fourth Japanese manufacturer, JTEKT, was not fined as it had blown the whistle on the cartel, the commission said.
All other companies had their fines reduced for cooperating with the investigation and for agreeing to a settlement.
The settlement is part of a wider commission investigation into suspected cartels in the sector of car parts. It has already found cartels for wire harnesses in cars and for the foam used in car seats.
The EU‘s executive may fine companies up to 10 per cent of their turnover for anti-competitive behaviour because such practices can drive up prices and harm customers.