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EU regulators raid auto giant BMW in German cartel case

The bloc's anti-trust officials have searched the offices of the premium carmaker this week in a probe investigating BMW and four other German automobile firms for suspected anti-competitive practices. BMW confirmed on Friday that EU anti-trust regulators had searched its offices in Munich this week, after the European Commission had earlier in the day refused to name the company involved. The EU, in its statement, said that the inspection related to the Commission concerns that several German car manufacturers may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices. "Inspections are a preliminary step in investigations of suspected anti-competitive practices. The fact that the Commission carries out inspections does not mean that the inspected companies are guilty of anti-competitive behavior, nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself," the Commission added. A group of leading German carmakers including Volkswagen, Porsche, Audi, BMW and Daimler stand accused of holding illicit meetings since the 1990s to coordinate vehicle technology, cost, suppliers, markets and strategy. Daimler comes clean In July, German media reported that the cartel's secret working groups hashed out and decided the most important details of the auto business, including the inadequate size of the AdBlue tanks that could not adequately feed their diesel cars' exhaust treatment. One of the aims of the cartel was to avoid "an arms race" of AdBlue tank sizes. Meanwhile, the cartel case has turned into a race for who rats out whom first. Luxury carmaker Daimler on Friday confirmed it had applied for the status of principal witness in the EU probe. Daimler chief financial officer (CFO) Bodo Uebber told journalists that the application "principally concerns coordination in breach of anti-trust legislation which was discussed in the press a while ago." As it was yet unclear whether the EU opened an official investigation into the carmaker, Daimler saw "no need presently to make financial provisions for any possible fines," Uebber added. Rat-out-race According to German media reports, Volkswagen had also attempted to apply for the principal witness status. But Daimler was first in coming clean with Germany's and Europe's cartel watchdogs, and it could avoid a multi-billion euro fine. Volkswagen's voluntary declaration is dated July 4, 2016, but Daimler's came significantly earlier. Still, Volkswagen could get a rebate on the punishment. BMW, one of the least suspicious in diesel emissions fixing, is kept holding the bag. BMW has said from the outset that there is nothing unusual in working with other carmakers on certain components if they "do not contribute to differentiation of the two brands and are therefore not relevant to competition." According to EU law, the first co-operating co-conspirator in an anti-trust matter could walk away unpunished. The second one to break the silence would get a maximum 50 percent rebate, but only if "evidence with considerable value-add" will be delivered.

The bloc’s anti-trust officials have searched the offices of the premium carmaker this week in a probe investigating BMW and four other German automobile firms for suspected anti-competitive practices. BMW confirmed on Friday that EU anti-trust regulators had searched its offices in Munich this week, after the European Commission had earlier in the day refused to name the company involved. ... Read More »

Australia sues Audi, ignores Skoda

Australia's consumer watchdog has launched court action against Germany's Volkswagen brand Audi over the carmaker's emissions cheating scandal. It said it was seeking proper compensation for deceptive conduct. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced Wednesday it had begun legal proceedings in the country's Federal Court against German carmaker Audi over allegations that it misled clients about diesel emission levels in their cars. The watchdog said legal action was leveled at local subsidiary Audi Australia as well as Audi's German owner, Volkswagen. The ACCC alleged that between 2011 and 2015 Audi had "engaged in misleading conduct by not disclosing the existence and operation of defeat devices in certain Audi-branded vehicles." Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement the software used to manipulate emissions tests in the laboratory breached Australian consumer law. Skoda off the hook Roughly 12,000 Audi cars would be affected by the current proceedings, the ACCC reported. By contrast, Volkswagen's Skoda cars would not be affected as the commission decided not to pursue the matter due to the low volume of Skoda car sales in Australia. The watchdog is seeking pecuniary penalties and corrective advertising. The latest action followed court proceedings launched against Volkswagen-branded cars last year. In that lawsuit, the commission claimed that more than 57,000 vehicles sold in Australia did not operate as Volkswagen advertised. Since then, Volkswagen and Audi have announced voluntary recalls to update the software in question.

Australia’s consumer watchdog has launched court action against Germany’s Volkswagen brand Audi over the carmaker’s emissions cheating scandal. It said it was seeking proper compensation for deceptive conduct. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced Wednesday it had begun legal proceedings in the country’s Federal Court against German carmaker Audi over allegations that it misled clients about diesel emission ... Read More »

US regulator finds another cheat device in Audi car

A year on since the parent party Volkswagen was hit with near bankruptsy, German media has reported the discovery of a second illegal software function in automatic transmission Audis. German newspaper "Bild am Sonntag" reported on Sunday that the Californian Air Resources Board (CARB) had discovered another illegal software function in an automatc transmission in Audi last summer. The paper said the device, which was not the same as the one which triggered last year's diesel emissions scandal at Audi's parent company, Volkswagen, was also used in gasoline and diesel-powered cars in Europe. The illegal software deactivated pollution controls on more than 11 million diesel vehicles sold worldwide, triggering the deepest business crisis in the German carmaker's history. Investigators found that the cars emitted more than 40 times the legal limit of nitrogen oxide, which can cause respiratory problems. Unorthorized VW said earlier this week, however, that the use of the software “did not constitute an unauthorized shutdown device under European law.” According to "Bild am Sonntag" the most recently discovered software was installed on many Audi models with a certain automatic transmission. If the steering wheel does not turn, this indicates laboratory testing conditions, and a gear shifting program which produces less carbon dioxide is activated. If the driver turns the steering wheel by more than 15 degrees, however, the "warm-up strategy" deactivates, "Bild am Sonntag"said. Audi reportedly stopped using the software in May 2016, just before CARB discovered the manipulation in an older model, the paper said, adding that the carmaker had suspended several engineers in connection with the matter.

A year on since the parent party Volkswagen was hit with near bankruptsy, German media has reported the discovery of a second illegal software function in automatic transmission Audis. German newspaper “Bild am Sonntag” reported on Sunday that the Californian Air Resources Board (CARB) had discovered another illegal software function in an automatc transmission in Audi last summer. The paper ... Read More »

Renault-Nissan enters into the self-driving car market

Renault-Nissan Alliance has announced it will introduce 10 self-driving models by 2020, in attempt to break into the emerging market. The cars will be introduced in Europe, the US, Japan and China. Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault and chairman of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, made the announcement on Thursday, saying that the self-driving technology would be introduced gradually. "It's going to happen in waves. We want to make sure our technology is accepted, understood and used." Ghosn's statement pointed to concerns from researchers who said people may not be ready for self-driving technology, as the transition from robotic driving to human control could prove too disastrous on the open road. However, Ghosn believes that introducing the technology "in waves" could help people learn what autonomous driving can and can't do. Renault-Nissan plans to debut its first batch of self-driving cars later this year. The company says the cars should be able to steer while traveling down a single lane on the highway. By 2018, the company will introduce cars that will be able to automatically navigate across several highway lanes, and by 2020 the cars should be able to navigate city streets on their own. The company hasn't said which models will include the self-driving technology or how much the cars would cost. Stiff competition The company's announcement doesn't represent a unique breakthrough, as Tesla Motors, an American automotive company, has already unveiled cars capable of shifting into self-driving mode on highways. In addition, Google has already logged more than 1 million miles with their self-driving cars, and has been experimenting with the technology since 2009. Competition also includes Toyota, Ford Motor and General Motors. Other companies such as Uber and Lyft have also joined the market.

Renault-Nissan Alliance has announced it will introduce 10 self-driving models by 2020, in attempt to break into the emerging market. The cars will be introduced in Europe, the US, Japan and China. Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault and chairman of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, made the announcement on Thursday, saying that the self-driving technology would be introduced gradually. “It’s going to ... Read More »

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