German car ‘cartel’ could have to pay British drivers billions
German car manufactures are likely to be forced to pay billions of pounds in compensation to British motorists if it is proved that they colluded over pricing, lawyers predicted yesterday.
The Times reported yesterday that EU officials were investigating BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen for allegedly colluding over emissions, engines, brakes and other components and technologies in secret meetings dating back to the 1990s. Audi and Porsche are also reported to be potentially involved.
The European Commission or Germany’s federal competition authority has the power to penalise companies up to 10 per cent of annual revenue and the companies are likely to be hit with massive consumer claims across Europe. Almost a third of new cars registered in the UK annually was made by one of the companies involved.
“If collusion is proved then the compensation claims could run into billions of pounds,” said Stephen Critchley, a lawyer at the City of London law firm Collyer Bristow. Critchley said it was “hardly surprising” that European Commission officials were investigating possible collusion between the car manufactures, “as the EC has already found collusion between a number of truck manufacturers, including Daimler and MAN, a Volkswagen subsidiary, in price fixing and delaying the introduction of such technology in trucks”.