Thirteen German automakers have been named as defendants in another proposed class action accusing them of engaging in 'a two decade-long conspiracy' to hinder technological innovation and the raise the prices of five German car brands.
Thirteen German automakers have been named as defendants in another proposed class action accusing them of engaging in “a two decade-long conspiracy” to hinder technological innovation and the raise the prices of five German car brands – Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Volkswagen. The defendants are listed as follows:
Audi of America, Inc.
Audi of America, LLC
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG
BMW of North America, LLC
Mercedes-Benz U.S. International
Mercedes-Benz Vans, LLC
Dr. Ing. h.c.F. Porsche AG
Porsche Cars of North America, Inc.
Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.
The allegations date back to a report released on July 21, 2017 by German publication Der Spiegel in which Volkswagen reportedly admitted it had participated in the anticompetitive scheme. The suit alleges that the defendants engaged a total of at least 200 employees over the years in “working groups” during which they shared business secrets and conspired together to suppress competition among each other. “Working group meetings established rules,” the complaint reads, “specifying that no one manufacturer could be so far ahead in terms of innovations that it would cause another to lose sales.” The case claims that as a result, the defendants delayed technological advances and forced consumers to pay a higher price for their vehicles.
Among the topics discussed between the defendants, the suit says, was decreasing the size of AdBlue tanks – parts involved in diesel vehicles’ emission systems – to save money and allow for more cargo space while evading U.S. emissions regulations. The complaint claims the defendants’ “coordinated approach” attempted to avoid raising suspicions about why companies’ AdBlue tanks could be different sizes while still meeting emissions standards.
The suit argues that the ultimate consequence of the defendants’ behavior is that consumers were forced to pay more for German vehicles than they would have if the automakers were properly competing.