Tyremakers among 52 automotive suppliers in US$23 million antitrust settlement
Tyre manufacturers Toyo, Bridgestone and Continental are amongst the 52 automotive suppliers that paid a total of $23 million in settlements for antitrust law violations in California, USA.
According to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra the charges arise from “illegal bid rigging in response to requests for bids from automobile companies”. In a statement announcing the news Becerra explained that such behaviour has being going on for years: “This conduct, going back decades, involved conspiracies by dozens of auto parts manufacturers to suppress and eliminate competition by agreeing to rig bids for and to fix, stabilize, and maintain prices of automotive parts sold to automobile manufacturers, affecting many foreign and domestic vehicles. These schemes resulted in artificially increased prices for consumers and a less competitive marketplace.”
The largest settlement was filed against Denso Corporation, which paid $4.25 million to the state. However, this does not mean the role of tyre manufacturers in the case was insignificant. Toyo Tire settled for $791,666.66 – the largest amount paid by a tyre company and the 11th largest amount in the group.
For its part, Bridgestone paid out $650,000, the 13th largest amount, in a deal agreed on 21 May 2018.
Continental paid $83,333.33, the 38th largest amount in the group. Its settlement was signed on 19 February 2019.
The settlements were announced on 4 December after the largest settlement (with Denso) was signed the day before (3 December 2019).
“A vehicle is one of the most expensive and important purchases working families can make,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Competition is vital to sustain our marketplace and keep products affordable for consumers. [This] announcement is the culmination of years of work by our office to hold these auto parts companies accountable and to maintain a fair and competitive economy for Californians.”
More than 22 million cars are registered in California.
Following separate actions by the US Department of Justice, some 46 companies pled guilty to price-fixing and bid-rigging in the auto parts industry and agreed to pay a total of nearly $3 billion in fines. These companies have also been sued by attorneys representing classes of indirect purchasers, including auto dealers and consumers, and direct purchaser plaintiffs. This separate case does not appear to relate to tyres.