In the 1990s, Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, Porsche, Daimler and other German auto-makers formed a secret pact to price-fix a diesel emissions control substance called AdBlue, according to Der Spiegel, who cites memos from those meetings that VW and Daimler have sent to German competition enforcers.
Over 200 VW employees worked in over 60 working groups on AdBlue.
The secret meetings "laid the basis" for the 2015 diesel emission cheating scandal, in which VW was caught installing secret software in more than half a million vehicles sold in the US that it used to fool exhaust emissions tests. The admission of cheating ultimately cost the automaker tens of billions of dollars in fines and legal fees, making it one of the most expensive corporate scandals in history.
Years earlier, VW participated in dozens of secret meetings with its competitors, involving over 200 employees in up to 60 working groups, on how to meet increasingly tough emissions criteria in diesel vehicles. The automakers may have colluded to fix prices of a diesel emission treatment called AdBlue through these working groups, Der Spiegel says. Specifically, VW (which owns Porsche and Audi), Daimler (which owns Mercedes-Benz and Smart), and BMW allegedly agreed to use AdBlue tanks that were too small. AdBlue is a liquid solution used to counteract a vehicle's emissions.
German automakers formed a secret cartel in the '90s to collude on diesel emissions: report
[Andrew J. Hawkins/The Verge]
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