European Union hits truck maker Scania with hefty cartel fine

European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager speaks during a media conference regarding a truck cartel case at EU headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday Sept. 27 2017

Scania has hit back at the European Commission's decision to fine it €881m (£771m) over price-fixing, refuting the charge and saying it will appeal it.

The Swedish lorry maker, owned by Volkswagen, refused to settle with the commission in July past year when record-breaking cartel fines totalling €3 billion were handed out to Volvo, Daimler, Iveco and DAF. "These trucks account for around three quarters of inland transport of goods in Europe and play a vital role in the European economy", Vestager said.

"Instead of colluding on pricing, the truck manufacturers should have been competing against each other - also on environmental improvements", said Vestager and added that the total penalty inflicted by Brussels on the cartel participants had reached 3.8 billion euros.

Scania declined to participate in the settlement talks, so the investigation against the company was carried out under the standard cartel procedure, the Commission said.

The companies that were involved in the cartel all manufacture medium trucks, weighing between six and 16 tonnes, and heavy trucks, which weigh over 16 tonnes, according to the Commission. Generally, these gross list prices are the basis for pricing in the trucks industry.

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The charges included mainly price-fixing, but also alleged the existence of a secret agreement by the companies to delay and then pass on the costs of anti-pollution technology to consumers. From 2004, the cartel was run by lower- level managers through the companies' German subsidiaries and information was exchanged by email.

An investigation found that the companies had conspired to fix the price of trucks and also charged customers for implementing technology aimed at reducing emissions.

Scania's fine is the second highest after Daimler's 1 billion euro penalty.

However, the Commission said the investigation did not reveal any links between the cartel and allegations of carmakers cheating emissions tests. "Scania also emphasizes that it has cooperated fully" by providing European Union regulators with requested data and explanations throughout the entire investigation period. But Scania refused to cooperate, the commission said.

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