S Korea Fines Three German Carmakers in Dieselgate Row

Three German automakers accused of colluding on curbing emissions technologies for their diesel-powered vehicles have been fined $33.48M by South Korean authorities.

The ‘Dieselgate’ issue has seen the nation’s Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC), anti-trust regulator, has said Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volkswagen and Audi were involved in collusion that reduced competition and restricted consumer choice, reports Reuters. Mercedes-Benz was fined $16.4M, BMW $12.7M and Audi $4.8M, the regulator said, adding that the brand Volkswagen was not fined because it did not earn revenue relevant from the collusion.

Mercedes-Benz said the company had cooperated fully with the KFTC and “will not have to pay any fine”, pointing the outcome of a similar probe by the European Commission. A company spokes said in a statement: “The case related to the same set of facts which has been subject to the European Commission’s proceedings and where Mercedes-Benz acted as a leniency applicant and did not have to pay a fine. At no point were agreements or an exchange of information on prices, volumes or market sharing part of the investigation.” Reuters reports that the KFTC declined to comment on Mercedes-Benz’s statement.

Last year, Mercedes-Benz and its Korean unit were fined $16.3M for false advertising tied to gas emissions of diesel passenger vehicles. The European Commission in 2021 fined Volkswagen and BMW a total of $949.2M for colluding to curb the use of emissions-cleaning technology they had developed. Mercedes-Benz, then called Daimler, was also part of the cartel but not fined after revealing its existence.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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