Dieselgate is threatening to take a nation-wide form, with German magazine Der Spiegel claiming Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Porsche have had secret understandings on diesel matters.
Allegedly the companies have been performing together secret working groups since the 1990s, aimed at deciding the prices of diesel emissions treatment systems – which means they formed a cartel, which is something punishable by law. “These allegations look very serious and would mean more than 20 years of potential collusion,” commented Juergen Pieper, a Frankfurt-based analyst with Bankhaus Metzler for Bloomberg. “There seems to be a never ending story of bad news about the industry’s bad behavior.” Apparently the German media outlet caught wind of a letter sent by Volkswagen to German competition authorities, which have now opened an investigation.
Allegedly, the letter contained an admission that more than 200 employees from BMW, Audi and Porsche have been working in more than 60 meetings discussing vehicle development, brakes, gasoline and diesel engines, clutches and transmissions as well as exhaust treatment systems. The letter is a response into an investigation by German competition authorities about a possible steel cartel. Apparently – among many others – the companies settled the cost of AdBlue, an exhaust emissions treatment system for diesel engines. It was all done to cut costs, and it ultimately also led to the Dieselgate scandal, in which Volkswagen manipulated emissions using secret software. Adding fuel to the allegations is the recent string of voluntary recalls by Mercedes and Audi – three million and 850,000 units, respectively.