BMW and VW Hit with Near $1 Billion Fine for Collusion against Eco-Friendly Tech

Before BMW was implicated in the Dieselgate diesel emissions scandal, the carmaker was already in the news because it colluded with the Volkswagen Group and Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler. The three manufacturers formed a cartel and worked together to delay new, eco-friendly technology vital for reducing emissions.

Along with Audi and Porsche (of the VW Group), BMW, Volkswagen, and Daimler secretly met for several years and discussed how they could add AdBlue or urea (found in the urine of mammals) to exhaust gases so they can eliminate nitrogen oxides (or NOx). Although it helps bring down the levels of diesel emissions, it also affects the vehicle’s overall performance. This, according to the European Commission, is a violation of the European Union’s antitrust laws. More specifically, the five carmakers went against the EEA (European Economic Area) agreement.

Der Spiegel first reported about the cartel on July 27 and it did not take long before authorities started looking into the allegations. They raided the carmakers’ offices to look for evidence that can support the accusations.

BMW, the VW Group, and Daimler held their meetings and exchanged sensitive information between June 25, 2009 and October 1, 2014.

Daimler reported the existence of the cartel in October 2017.

BMW and VW fines

Two years after the carmakers were charged for violating antitrust laws, the European Union officially implemented a collective fine of around $1 billion (approximately £802 million).  The fines were based on the Commission’s 2006 Guidelines on fines.

Meanwhile, authorities used the following to determine the fine levels:

  • Diesel vehicle (equipped with SCR-systems) sales for each carmaker in 2013
  • Infringement type
  • Geographical area covered
  • Gravity of infringement

Authorities eventually decided to lower the fines by around 20% because of the circumstances of the case.

As for the fines, BMW has to pay a total of £363 million while Volkswagen is expected to pay £489 million. Since it reported the collusion and the cartel’s existence, Daimler was not fined.

Although it involves emissions, particularly nitrogen oxides, the cartel case is a separate issue from the 2015 Dieselgate diesel emissions scandal.

What Dieselgate is all about

In September 2015, the global automobile industry was taken by surprise when US authorities announced that the Volkswagen Group violated emissions regulations by using defeat devices in their diesel vehicles. VW and Audi vehicles that were sold across the United States were allegedly fitted with cheat software intended to manipulate emissions tests.

A defeat device reduces emissions once it detects that a vehicle is being tested. This makes the vehicle appear emissions-compliant and safe. Regulators will then mark the vehicle safe for selling and driving. However, the lowered emissions only work when the vehicle is in testing condition. When it is brought out of the lab for real-world driving, the vehicle emits massive and unlawful volumes of NOx.

NOx emissions have devastating effects on the environment and can shorten human life. Nitrogen oxides are a group of gases that react when mixed with other elements. It has nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitric oxide (NO) and is capable of producing a pollutant known as ground-level ozone, smog, and acid rain.

Authorities believe that Volkswagen lied to their customers and therefore prioritised profit over the safety of their customers. They exposed hundreds of thousands of affected drivers to dangerous NOx emissions.

Volkswagen is not the only carmaker implicated in the scandal, Mercedes-Benz, Renault, and BMW, among others, have also been accused of using illegal defeat devices.

The BMW emissions scandal happened after the discovery of the cartel. KBA or the German Federal Motor Transport Authority discovered that some of BMW’s luxury diesel vehicles were equipped with defeat devices. The KBA ordered a recall of the 11,700 affected vehicles despite BMW assuring the public that they didn’t use the illegal software. Authorities went on with their case and fined the carmaker.

What NOx emissions can do to you?

If you are exposed to nitrogen oxides, you will experience various health impacts, and some of them can be life-threatening:

  • Dementia (due to weakened cognitive health)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Asphyxiation
  • Pulmonary oedema
  • Laryngospasm
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Premature death

The number of early deaths linked to air pollution totals thousands year after year. Exposure to toxic air has become the leading cause of these deaths, making it more dangerous than drugs and alcohol addiction, HIV & AIDS, and cigarette smoking.

Authorities believe that carmakers are responsible for exposing affected drivers to the life-changing health impacts of NOx emissions. Car owners have also been lied to and misled so carmakers can earn more profit. These are the reasons why a diesel claim should be brought against manufacturers involved in the Dieselgate scandal.

What’s my diesel claim about?

A diesel claim is a legal action that allows affected drivers to receive compensation from their carmaker. However, not all claims are successful, which is why it is important to work with an emissions expert and follow the right emissions claim process.

The first step is to visit so you can verify if you are eligible to receive compensation or not. Once you have ensured that you are, you can begin working on your diesel claim individually or as part of a Group Litigation Order (GLO).

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