EU targets BMW, Daimler, VW in pollution cartel probe

The EU opened an in-depth probe into alleged collusion by major German carmakers over anti-pollution technology Tuesday, a fresh blow to the scandal-hit industry three years after the notorious "dieselgate."

EU targets BMW, Daimler, VW in pollution cartel probe
A Volkswagen car dealership. Photo: DPA

Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said BMW, Daimler and VW are suspected of agreeing “not to compete against each other on the development  and roll-out” of anti-pollution systems for petrol and diesel passenger cars.

“If proven, this collusion may have denied consumers the opportunity to buy 
less polluting cars, despite the technology being available to the  manufacturers,” she added.

The probe lands three years to the day after shock revelations in the US  that VW installed software in millions of its diesel vehicles around the world to cheat emissions tests.The latest case does not involve these so-called “defeat devices”, but instead focuses on the development of state-of-the-art control systems that  reduce smog-causing pollution, such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.

The Commission said the probe was working with evidence of meetings and 
collusion by a group it called the “circle of five”: BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen, 
in addition to VW units Audi and Porsche.

EU regulators working the investigation launched a series of raids a year 
ago in Germany.

Daimler and VW are widely reported to be putting themselves forward as 
whistle-blowers in the case, in order to win leniency with the EU authorities.

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Germany’s Daimler to cut ‘at least 10,000’ jobs to fund electric shift

German luxury automaker Daimler on Friday said it would slash at least 10,000 jobs worldwide in a major cost-cutting drive to help finance the switch to electric cars.

Germany's Daimler to cut 'at least 10,000' jobs to fund electric shift
Daimler's headquarters in Stuttgart at night. Photo: DPA

 “The total number worldwide will be in the five-digits,” Daimler personnel
chief Wilfried Porth told reporters in a conference call, after the group said
in an earlier statement “thousands” of jobs would be axed.

He added that the company intended to save €1.4 billion in staff costs. The cull includes slashing management jobs worldwide “by 10 percent”.

READ ALSO: Germany boosts support for electric cars with cash bonuses and a million charging points

“The automotive industry is in the middle of the biggest transformation in its history,” Daimler said.

“The development towards CO2-neutral mobility requires large investments,”
it added.

Along with other manufacturers, Daimler is scrambling to get ready for tough new EU emission rules taking effect next year, forcing it to accelerate the costly shift to zero-emissions electric cars and plug-in hybrids.

The group, which employs 304,000 people globally, said the job cuts would be achieved through natural turnover, early retirement schemes and severance packages.

Daimler's announcement comes as the mighty German car industry is buffeted by trade tensions, weaker Chinese demand and a darkening economic outlook.

Other major car companies have in recent months already unveiled plans to cut some 30,000 jobs in the sector over the next years.

Germany's Audi said it wants to axe 9,500 jobs, followed by more than 5,000 each at Volkswagen and car parts supplier Continental, while Bosch aims to cut more than 2,000 roles.

READ ALSO: Audi to slash 9,500 jobs in Germany

US car giant Ford plans to scrap some 5,000 jobs in Germany alone.

Electric engines require fewer parts and are less complicated to assemble than internal combustion engines, needing fewer hands.

But auto bosses have said thousands of new, hi-tech jobs will also be created in the electric era to make cars more autonomous and connected.

German automotive expert Ferdinand Dudenhöffer has said he believes the German car sector — which currently employs 800,000 people — will shed 250,000 jobs over the next decade.

A total of 125,000 new ones will be created, he predicted.

Daimler returned to profit in the third quarter and said it was expecting 2019 revenues to be “slightly above” last year's, while operating profit would be “significantly below” the €11.1 billion in 2018.

The group was this year hit by expensive recalls and a €870 million fine for having sold diesel vehicles that did not conform with legal emissions limits.