The European Union slapped a huge fine of 880 million euros (US$1.0 billion) on European truck maker Scania last Wednesday, ending the commission’s investigation into a cartel that it said lasted 14 years and involved six major truck producers — Daimler, DAF, Iveco, MAN, Volvo/Renault and Scania. Authorities found that the manufacturers colluded on prices and in the implementation of emissions technology.
Commission investigators said senior managers at the companies founded the cartel in January of 1997 when they met in “a cozy hotel” in Brussels. The manufacturers then met regularly to manage the cartel, sometimes at the margins of trade fairs and other events.
Scania, owned by Volkswagen, was the only holdout in the European Union's massive cartel case in which five other truck builders admitted to the wrongdoing and jointly received a record fine of 3 billion euros.
Daimler, DAF, Iveco, MAN and Volvo/Renault were hit with the fines in July 2016. Along with Scania, they account for nine out of every 10 trucks sold in Europe.
With the latest fine, the total penalty inflicted hit 3.8 billion euros ($4 billion), said the European Commission, the EU's antitrust regulator.
"Instead of colluding on pricing, the truck manufacturers should have been competing against each other -- also on environmental improvements," said European Commission competition chief Margrethe Vestager.
Germany's MAN tipped off the European Commission about the collusion at the highest level, triggering an investigation that began with raids on large truck manufacturers in 2011.
The charge sheet includes accusations of price-fixing, but also alleges the existence of a secret agreement by the companies to delay and then pass on the costs of anti-pollution technology to consumers.
In a statement Scania said that it “has reviewed the decision by the European Commission concerning inappropriate exchange of information during the period of 1997-2011, and will appeal against it".
“Scania strongly contests all the findings and allegations made by the European Commission, and will appeal against the decision in its entirety. Scania also emphasizes that it has cooperated fully with the European Commission by providing it with requested information and explanations throughout the entire investigation period.”