Scania fined for price fixing

The European Commission (EC) has fined Scania more than €880 million (£770m) for its participation in a truck cartel. Scania was the sixth and final manufacturer implicated in the price-fixing scandal, but decided against settling with the EC last year. The five other truck manufacturers – MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler (Mercedes-Benz), Iveco and DAF – were collectively fined €2.93bn (£2.57bn) after admitting wrongdoing.

It means the EC has fined the six companies a total of €3.8bn (£3.3bn) – a record fine for a cartel in the EU’s 60-year history.

The EC investigation found that the first meeting between senior managers of all six truck producers took place in Brussels, in January 1997. This was the beginning of a collusion that continued for 14 years.

The truck producers met regularly to manage the cartel. For the first few years of the cartel, this involved senior managers from the companies’ head offices meeting frequently. From 2004 onwards the cartel was organised at a lower level by the truck producers’ subsidiaries in Germany.

Scania was an active member of the cartel and was responsible for organising some of the meetings. For example, one of the invitations for a meeting sent by Scania openly stated their purpose. It read: “An exchange of information should always be the basis of our meeting and therefore I expect from every member of our group a proper preparation.

“Our group” here really means “our cartel”. A properly organised one.

The discussions between the companies in the cartel focused on two main topics. Firstly, the truck producers discussed the “gross price list”, increases they were planning for medium and heavy trucks and coordinated these with each other. These gross list prices are the basis for pricing in the trucks industry. The final price paid by buyers is then based on further adjustments, done at national and local level, to these gross list prices.

Secondly, the truck producers also discussed their response to increasingly strict European emissions standards. These have been progressively tightened over the years, reducing the acceptable limits for exhaust emissions from trucks.

The truck producers coordinated both on the pricing for the new technologies that were needed to meet the stricter standards and on when to actually introduce new technologies.

MAN revealed the cartel, and so received immunity from fines. Volvo/Renault, Daimler and Iveco also cooperated by providing evidence and so had their fines reduced.

These five trucks producers who settled in July last year also had their fines further reduced by 10 per cent under our settlement procedure.

Scania chose not to cooperate with the Commission during the investigation and therefore did not benefit from any fine reduction.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) welcomed the fine the EC has imposed on Scania, but pointed out it does nothing to pay UK hauliers back for the money they’ve spent on overpriced lorries.

The RHA is leading the way in the UK to obtain compensation for the haulage industry and has almost 2,000 operators signed up to its group claim.

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