After an investigation by the European Commission, it was determined MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF had colluded for 14 years on truck pricing, thereby breaking European Union antitrust rules.
The EC has imposed a fine of €2.93bn (£2.46bn) on four of the manufacturers, while MAN dodged its penalty as it revealed the existence of the cartel to the Commission.
According to the EC, all companies acknowledged their involvement and agreed to settle the case.
“We have today put down a marker by imposing record fines for a serious infringement,” said commissioner for competition, Margrethe Vestager. “It is not acceptable that MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF, which together account for around nine out of every 10 medium and heavy trucks produced in Europe, were part of a cartel instead of competing with each other.
“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,” she added.
The decision relates specifically to the market for the manufacturing of medium (6-16 tonnes) and heavy trucks (16 tonnes and over). The Commission’s investigation revealed MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF had engaged in a cartel relating to:
- Coordinating prices at ‘gross list’ level for medium and heavy trucks in the European Economic Area (EEA) (the ‘gross list’ price level relates to the factory price of trucks, as set by each manufacturer)
- The timing for the introduction of emission technologies for medium and heavy trucks to comply with the increasingly strict European emissions standards (from Euro 3 through to Euro 6)
- The passing on to customers of the costs for these emissions technologies.
The infringement covered the entire EEA and lasted 14 years, from 1997 until 2011, when the Commission carried out unannounced inspections of the firms.
Between 1997 and 2004, meetings were held at senior manager level, sometimes at the margins of trade fairs or other events. This was complemented by phone conversations. From 2004 onwards, the cartel was organised via the truck producers’ German subsidiaries, with participants generally exchanging information electronically.
Proceedings have also been opened with regard to Scania. The Swedish manufacturer is not covered by the settlement decision and the EC said its investigation will continue under the standard (non-settlement) cartel procedure for this company.
The EC added that the collusion was not aimed at avoiding or manipulating compliance with the new emission standards, and its investigation did not reveal any links between the cartel and allegations or practices on circumventing the anti-pollution system of certain vehicles.
MAN received full immunity from fines for revealing the existence of the cartel, thereby avoiding a fine of around €1.2 billion. For its cooperation with the investigation, Volvo/Renault, Daimler and Iveco benefited from reductions of their fines.
“While we regret what has happened, we are convinced these events have not impacted our customers,” said Volvo president and CEO, Martin Lundstedt. “The Volvo Group has always competed for every single transaction. We have taken these events very seriously from the outset and our full co-operation with the Commission resulted in a very substantial reduction in the fine.”
In a statement, Scania said it was making a provision of SEK 3.8 billion to cover possible fines. The company said it had fully cooperated with the EC during the investigation, but is contesting the Commission’s view that the company has entered into a pan-European agreement with other manufacturers with regard to pricing.
The Swedish truck-builder also said it had not delayed the introduction of new engines compliant with EU-legislation for exhaust emissions.
Scania said it would “fully exercise its rights of defence” in the ongoing investigation.