BMW’s Munich headquarters were raided by the European Commission’s antitrust arm last week following allegations over the summer that the biggest carmakers in Germany had colluded for decades, it was revealed on Friday.
The Commission said its officials carried out an “unannounced inspection” at the premises of “a car manufacturer” in Germany on October 16. BMW then confirmed it was the carmaker.
“The BMW Group is assisting the European Commission in its work. The European Commission has not opened a formal proceeding against the BMW Group,” the carmaker said.
The investigation came after a Der Spiegel magazine report in July that claimed BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi had held secret meetings since the 1990s to collude on certain technology. Specifically it was alleged they agreed on the costs for components and the choice of suppliers, including to use only small, inexpensive tanks for the liquid solution AdBlue, which neutralises exhaust emissions in diesel vehicles.
Daimler acknowledged on Friday that it had self-reported the issue to the authorities and applied for leniency. A Volkswagen spokesman declined to comment, aside from confirming that no VW sites – including at its Porsche or Audi units – were raided.
BMW said on Friday it “wishes to make clear” the distinction between potential violations of antitrust law — which it is being investigated for — illegal manipulation of exhaust gas treatment, which it has not been accused of.
A BMW spokesperson confirmed the group launched an internal investigation with outside legal help in July, but would not comment on any preliminary findings.
BMW has said from the outset that there is nothing unusual in working with other carmakers on certain components if they “do not contribute to differentiation of the two brands and are therefore not relevant to competition.”