German Group Fined €68m over Cartel

The European Commission (EC) has imposed a €68m (US$76.6m) fine on German auto-parts producer, Eberspaecher Group, for colluding with rival Webasto to set prices for parking heaters.

The EC, Europe’s top anti-trust authority, said the two German companies had co-ordinated on pricing and allocated customers across Europe over a 10-year period, beginning September 2001.

The cartel involved fuel-operated parking heaters – which heat parked cars or truck – and auxiliary heaters, which support the heating system of a running car or truck.

“For over 10 years, the only two suppliers of parking heaters in Europe colluded to avoid competing with each other,” said EU anti-trust chief Margrethe Vestager. “This cosy arrangement adversely affected a major part of the European automotive industry and ultimately those who buy cars and trucks.”

Eberspaecher was fined the full €68.2m for its involvement, but Webasto avoided a larger penalty of €222m as it revealed the existence of the cartel. Both companies agreed to settle the case.

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