China’s anti-monopoly regulators announced on Thursday the first punishment of foreign automakers for price-fixing, fining a Chinese Volkswagen AG joint venture and the China sales unit of Fiat’s Chrysler with a total of $46 million.
Similar fines might be given to other global car sellers like Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz and Tata Motor Ltd’s Jaguar Land Rover, which are at the moment probed for possible anti-competitive behavior.
The sales unit of Volkswagen’s JV, FAW-Volkswagen Automobile Co Ltd, has been fined $40.6 million for fixing Audi prices, while Chrysler’s China sales unit gets a smaller fine of $5.2 million for operating a price monopoly. Separately, three Chrysler dealers in Shanghai and eight Audi dealers in China’s Hubei province would also be fined.
Last month, China, the world’s biggest car market, fined 12 Japanese auto parts makers a record $201 million for manipulating prices. The penalty in China is severe and companies can be fined up to 10% of their annual China revenues for breaking the anti-monopoly law.
The anti-trust investigations have been recently causing more concern, with the European Chamber of Commerce in China stepping in to say Beijing seemed to be using strong-arm tactics and unfairly targeted foreign firms. However, punishment for Chrysler and Audi has been widely expected as the NDRC previously stated it concluded the two car makers had broken the anti-monopoly law.
By Gabriela Florea