The European Commission has issued fines totalling €368,277,000 to car safety equipment suppliers found to have breached the EU’s antitrust rules.
Equipment suppliers Autoliv, TRW and Takata were found to have participated in “cartels”, coordinating their market behaviour and sharing commercially sensitive information while selling car equipment including airbags, seatbelts and steering wheels to the BMW Group and the Volkswagen Group between 2007 and 2011. As the combined sales of Volkswagen Group and BMW Group account for around three of every 10 new cars sold in Europe, the cartels’ impact on EU consumers is likely to have been substantial.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “This is the second time we [have] fine[d] car safety equipment suppliers for participating in a cartel. Components such as seatbelts and airbags are essential for the safety of the millions of people that use their car to drive to work or take their children to school every day. The three suppliers colluded to increase their profits from the sale of these life-saving components. These cartels ultimately hurt European consumers and adversely impacted the competitiveness of the European automotive sector, which employs around 13 million people in the EU.”
Autoliv and TRW will be forced to pay a total of €368,277,000 – both companies’ fines were reduced by 10 per cent in recognition of their cooperation with the investigation – while Tataka was granted full immunity from a potential fine of up to € 195 million, as it had informed the Commission of the existence of the cartels. Autoliv and Tataka have already been fined by the Commission, which has conducted a number of serious investigations into antitrust violations in the automotive sector, for similar offences pertaining to the sale of safety equipment to Japanese car manufacturers; while TRW was fined for its actions in supplying hydraulic braking systems to BMW and Daimler.