In a probe of steel purchasing by the auto industry, Volkswagen AG (IW 1000/7), BMW AG (IW 1000/31), Daimler AG (IW 1000/15) and Robert Bosch GmbH were among six companies raided by Germany’s antitrust regulator in June.
There are indications that antitrust rules may have been violated, and the raids were conducted to investigate the facts, Kay Weidner, spokesman for the Federal Cartel Office, said on July 5. He declined to identify any company.
BMW, VW, Daimler, Bosch and ZF Friedrichshafen AG confirmed that they were raided and said they are supporting the investigations.
Carmakers are one the major pillars of the German economy, and steel is a key component for auto companies. On average, about 900 kilograms (1,984 pounds) of steel is used in every car, according to the World Steel Association.
Germany’s antitrust office, like the European Commission, has the power to levy fines of up to 10% of annual sales, though penalties seldom approach that level.
While the auto industry has been targeted by a series of EU price-fixing probes, these have focused more on specific components or products rather than collusion on purchases of raw materials.
By Karin Matussek