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German manufacturers in potential cartel investigation as Audi issues emissions recall

German manufacturers in potential cartel investigation as Audi issues emissions recall

The European Commission is examining whether German manufacturers colluded on a number of automotive parts and systems, including those used to clean exhaust emissions, as part of investigations triggered by the Volkswagen diesel scandal.  

Without citing sources, Germany’s Handelsblatt daily business newspaper claimed that the European competition commission was looking into the suspicions based on an Audi presentation seized in raids on Volkswagen Group’s headquarters.

Meanwhile, Audi has launched a recall for up to 850,000 diesel cars in order to update vehicle software controlling emissions, in a bid to avoid potential city driving bans. The service is also being offered to Porsche and Volkswagen brand cars using the same V6 and V8 TDI Euro5 and Euro6 engines.   

The free voluntary recall aims to tweak the software of affected cars, to improve their emissions in real-world driving conditions. It is unclear how many cars in the UK are affected.  

Audi’s move follows last week’s announcement by Mercedes-Benz that it was calling on customers to return a reported three million cars, including every vehicle sold in the UK in the past six years, so engines could be adjusted to reduce the amount of pollutants they emit (Newsfeed: week commencing 17 July).

According to CAP HPI, the recalls by Audi and Mercedes-Benz are unlikely to prove a major factor in future vehicle resale values.  

Andrew Mee, senior forecasting editor (UK), told Fleet World’s website: “Recalls are fairly common and cover a host of fixes. The recent headlines made by Mercedes and Volkswagen Group are understandable given the level of news coverage on the diesel issue. However, the main drivers of future values are still based around available volumes and potential demand in the market as a whole.

“While current values may see a short term dip, the longer term forecast often sees a smoother and more predictable trend over three to four years. Diesel registration share has been in slight decline since 2012, with the decline increasing from 2014 and this gradual decline is expected to continue. Similarly, in the smaller car sectors, we are seeing the long standing premium that diesel vehicles commanded erode over time, and we expect this trend to also continue.”

Meanwhile, according to German newspaper Der Spiegel, there has been possible collusion between German motor manufacturers since the 1990s. It claims that Volkswagen wrote to the Commission to expose the cartel, revealing that manufacturers including itself, Audi, Porsche, BMW and Daimler were involved in discussing technology, costs and suppliers.  

In a statement, Audi said: “For several months, Audi has been intensively examining all diesel concepts for any irregularities. All indications have been investigated and since 2016, all engine and transmission combinations have been systematically reviewed. In doing so, Audi has cooperated closely with the authorities and reported to them, in particular the Federal Ministry of Transport and the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA). The overall package consists of voluntary measures, including some that have already been communicated to the authorities and which were considered in their decisions. Audi is aware that the investigations by the KBA have not yet been concluded.”