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Car manufacturers raided in ‘anti-competitive conduct’ investigation

Stellantis Opel vehicle production

Car makers and automotive industry bodies have been raided by the European Commission and the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on the suspicion of anti-competitive conduct.

The unannounced inspections were carried out on OEMs including Renault and Stellantis’ Opel brand yesterday (March 15), while BMW and Ford also received requests for information into the wide-reaching investigation, which is focused on the recycling of old or written-off vehicles, specifically cars and vans.

AM's sister title, Fleet News, reported that the EC has concerns that several companies and associations may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices (Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).

Meanwhile, the CMA is investigating suspected infringements of Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998 (‘CA98’).

The CMA stressed that “no assumption” should be made at this stage that the CA98 has been infringed.

It stated: “The CMA has not reached a view as to whether there is sufficient evidence of an infringement of competition law for it to issue a statement of objections to any of the parties under investigation.

“Not all cases result in the CMA issuing a statement of objections.”

The inspections and requests for information concern possible collusion in relation to the collection, treatment and recovery of end-of-life cars and vans which are considered waste.

The EC said that the duration of inquiries into anticompetitive conduct would depends on a number of factors, including “the complexity of each case, the extent to which the companies and associations concerned co-operate with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence”.

Ford, Opel and Renault all confirmed to the Reuters news agency that they were cooperating fully with the investigations.

Meanwhile, Mercedes Benz said it did not expect to be fined because it had approached the EU regulator and the CMA with information as a "leniency applicant".

Companies found breaching EU cartel rules face fines up to 10% of their global turnover.

In the past decade the EC has issued fines totalling around €2.2bn (£1.85bn) against car parts cartels dealing in products ranging from brakes to wire harnesses, seat belts and air bags.

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