From Florida comes the latest proposed class action lawsuit alleging the “German Five” automakers—Audi, BMW, Daimler (Mercedes Benz), Porsche and Volkswagen—were the cogs in a conspiratorial wheel aimed at keeping competition to a minimum and keeping vehicle prices artificially high.
“This case follows stunning revelations of a decades-long conspiracy where the ‘German Five’ carmakers held themselves out to be fierce competitors, but in reality were functioning as divisions of a single massive company, agreeing on nearly every aspect of the creation of their cars, unbeknownst to the millions of consumers who thought they were the beneficiaries of innovation and competition,” the 51-page complaint starts off.
At the heart of the lawsuit is not the alleged conspiracy itself, however, but its alleged overall scope, the lawsuit says, adding that the saga of the “German Five” must now focus on determining precisely how much money was “deceitfully taken from loyal car customers.”
The complaint speaks of “more than 1,000 meetings involving hundreds of employees” wherein the defendants allegedly coordinated illegal agreements and working relationships. Engrained in the allegations is the much-publicized “Diesel-gate” conspiracy, as well as claims that the defendants, for example, refused to compete on the car speeds at which a mechanized convertible top could operate.
Another example of the defendants’ alleged anti-competitive cooperation with each other, the case continues, is the supposed coordination of the size of tanks for AdBlue, a urea mixture the complaint says is used to split nitric oxide into its components of water and nitrogen to cut down on the amount of pollution emitted by vehicles. This deal was a cost-saving measure, the lawsuit claims, which ultimately had the negative effect of the tanks not being able “neutralize the amount of pollution that was required by law” and necessitated a workaround when the time came for emissions testing.
The entire complaint is worth a read and can be read below.