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Car air conditioning cartels fined €155m

EUROPE: The EC has fined car component manufacturers Behr, Calsonic, Denso, Panasonic, Sanden and Valeo €155m for taking in part in cartels involving supplies of air conditioning and engine cooling components.

All six suppliers acknowledged their involvement in one or more of four cartels and agreed to settle the case. Denso was not fined for three of the cartels and Panasonic was not fined for involvement in one of the cartels as they revealed their existence to the Commission.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “Even though air conditioning and cooling components are not something you see as products, they are very much something you feel. In this case you might also have felt it in your wallet even though temperatures would still be regulated in your car. Today’s decision underlines that we do not accept cartels that affect the European market, wherever and however they may be organised.”

The six car component suppliers are said to have coordinated prices or markets, and exchanged sensitive information, for the supply of the components to certain car manufacturers in the EEA.

The coordination is reported to have taken place at meetings, notably through trilateral meetings in Europe in one of the cartels, and through other collusive contacts in Europe and Japan through bilateral meetings, by email or phone.

In a statement, Vestager revealed that the car manufacturers affected were well known brands  like Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Volvo or Suzuki and Nissan/Renault.

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