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nderwater
nderwater UltimaDork
9/19/18 5:01 p.m.

The hole just gets deeper...

"The European Commission has launched an antitrust investigation into the Volkswagen Group, BMW and Daimler, over allegations they colluded to keep certain emissions control devices from reaching the market in Europe, according a statement the Commission released on Tuesday."

"The technologies the group allegedly sought to bury include a selective catalytic reduction system for diesel vehicles, which would help to reduce environmentally problematic oxides of nitrogen in passenger cars, and "Otto" particulate filters that trap particulate matter from gasoline combustion engines."

"The Commission is investigating whether BMW, Daimler and VW agreed not to compete against each other on the development and roll-out of important systems to reduce harmful emissions from 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."

https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/vw-daimler-bmw-european-commission-antitrust/

Ransom
Ransom GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/19/18 5:30 p.m.

Just... berkeley.

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
9/19/18 6:19 p.m.

So wait....Automotive manufacturers agree not to develop something that they're not required to develop under current law, and that's somehow illegal? 

Not that it's a given in any way, but I would think that if the manufacturers are meeting current emissions laws (*cough* VW), and intend to meet future laws in some way, they shouldn't be required to develop those systems just for their own non-required use. If the EU wants them to meet cleaner standards, shouldn't it just make a law requiring them to do so?

OldGray320i
OldGray320i GRM+ Memberand Dork
9/19/18 6:25 p.m.

I've heard the Euro Nanny State is worse than the US, so I wouldn't be surprised that there IS a requirement somewhere about implementing "green" tech developments as soon as feasible. 

Edit: what it says to me is that the development and implementation costs are prohibitively high, and would impact profit (which is NOT a dirty word).

It speaks to my perception that lots of effort and money spent for a negligible gain. 

We all want clean air, but we need and want a car, too... what's the right balance?

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/19/18 6:47 p.m.

Thanks to VW, the law is changing, a lot.  

The old rules were that the car just had to be clean on the test, and that was good enough for the EU.  Thanks to VW 1) lying about it actually being clean, and 2) going out of their way to be the opposite in the real world- instead of a lab test, the new EU rules are all real road tested vehicles.

Yes, emissions are expensive.  And thanks to it, and being stupid, VW is walking away from diesels.

OldGray320i
OldGray320i GRM+ Memberand Dork
9/19/18 7:00 p.m.

In reply to alfadriver :

Quoted above was diesel AND gas.  They're going to get hurt on everything. 

It's going to be ugly for those dudes, and you wonder how the Benz and Bimmer guys would even take a phone call from VW, even to get lunch, nevermind on anything else,  given the history...

CJ
CJ GRM+ Memberand Reader
9/19/18 7:12 p.m.

Competitors getting together to secretly collude or conspire regarding anything is illegal. 

Full stop.  Not sure if it matters if it's emissions or pricing.  Principle is the same.

As a publicly traded company, you can enter into agreements to cooperate with a competitor; however, the existence of those agreements has to be public. 

Snrub
Snrub HalfDork
9/19/18 7:13 p.m.

I thought particulate filters, or at least particulate reduction methods were already happening on gas cars in Europe?

I read recently that direct injection engines, tend to produce more particulates than port injection, but I'm a bit sceptical that it's a significant issue as with coal power plants and diesels.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/19/18 7:33 p.m.
Snrub said:

I thought particulate filters, or at least particulate reduction methods were already happening on gas cars in Europe?

These are better new particulate filters and catalysts that they conspired not to put on cars for some reason, maybe because they wanted to keep them in their back pocket so that if emissions standards tightened, they could just easily slap these on the cars and breathe a sigh of relief (although it's a breath of their unnecessarily polluted air).

Now here's an interesting question, was this technology somehow only known to these three manufacturers, or was everyone else playing along?

captdownshift
captdownshift GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/19/18 8:05 p.m.

I think that the manufacturers are actually getting together in an effort to kill diesel as they last too long and thusly aren't profitable for them as the product cycle of diesel cars is too long. As opposed to stopping offering them, they're working on having them banned. 

nderwater
nderwater UltimaDork
9/19/18 8:30 p.m.
irish44j said:

So wait....Automotive manufacturers agree not to develop something that they're not required to develop under current law, and that's somehow illegal? 

What if they agreed not to implement additional emissions controls and instead cheated to "meet" the regulations?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_emissions_scandal
https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/business/bmw-admits-mistake-in-diesel-emissions-scandal/articleshow/64215489.cms
http://www.thedrive.com/news/21480/daimler-to-recall-774000-vehicles-over-alleged-emissions-cheating

Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
9/19/18 9:50 p.m.

This seems like the least new news ever. Manufacturers sit on things they could do for at least 10 years before they finally implement them because they're forced to for competitive or regulatory reasons. Not to mention going out of their way to buy out or otherwise quash anything on the outside that could threaten their business plan.

If you consider that a corporation is an entity whose entire existence is based on maximizing returns, it's antithetical to do anything you don't have to until you have to. We all know this is true because it characterizes so much of life inside and around a corporation and i think almost everyone can relate to that to some degree. 

I don't particularly care about the fact that this is emissions related. The low hanging fruit of emissions reduction are not to hang a few thousand extra dollars of crap onto the tiny portion of cars that are brand new each year seeking miniscule gains. The gross polluters are all industrial/commercial and have disproportionate clout in their political spheres such that regulation of emissions will always be hot-potato'd down the line to the guy with the least effective political representation, i.e. John Public and his little car living in the shadow of a coal plant that turns the horizon yellow. It's not that decreasing new car emissions isn't worthwhile in general, but nibbling around the edges of the status quo in that sector is a drop in the bucket of the real problem and will not 'move the needle' of climate change. 

STM317
STM317 SuperDork
9/20/18 4:26 a.m.

Euro IV emissions standards all but required SCR tech and those have been in place since 2014. VW's Dieselgate began in 2015. There's no timeline given in the article that mentions when the regulators suspect this meeting occurred, but if they were trying to keep SCR from vehicles, then it must've happened before 2014. Probably well before since it would take time to implement that tech and have it ready for the 2014 emissions standards.

US diesels have been using SCR since 2009 so these companies would've had a very good idea what it costs to add that hardware to their vehicles. So this meeting probably occurred between 2009 and 2012 or 2013.

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/20/18 7:18 a.m.
Snrub said:

I thought particulate filters, or at least particulate reduction methods were already happening on gas cars in Europe?

I read recently that direct injection engines, tend to produce more particulates than port injection, but I'm a bit sceptical that it's a significant issue as with coal power plants and diesels.

It's significant.  And for the EU, many DI cars do require Gas particulate filters.  

 

As for the collusion- it is common practice to share technology- that's the entire point of the SAE.  The bad part is when they get together to prevent something happening.

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/20/18 7:28 a.m.

So Company’s  have to develop things by law?  That is messed up. If I was the auto makers I would be looking for government money to pay for the development. Why doesn’t the EU start it’s own research  and development lab/facility that is paid by tax’s on cars sold in there country’s. Then mandate what ever findings or things they develop be put on cars sold in there country’s.  

Not that the big three could afford to do it but what would happen if they just decided to stop selling cars in EU countries?  

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/20/18 7:53 a.m.

In reply to dean1484 :

Why is it messed up?  Why should it be a burden on the tax payers to make people who sell stuff safe to the population at large?  Granted, the people who buy and consume the product pay for the safety items, but a company should not be able to make stuff that they know harms the general population.  

Besides, the way the auto industry works, there's a HUGE financial incentive to come up with the best system- by that I mean the most effective at the lowest cost.  It's really easy to use the regulations to put the thumb screws to your competitors if you want to.

BTW, GM did decide to stop selling cars in the EU- they sold Opel.  FCA is never going to do that, being a EU company, and who knows what Ford will do.

On that note, I don't understand why someone would choose to not sell cars when others do, and make money doing it.  Some make a lot of money doing it. Be kind of dumb to ignore a huge market like the EU.

bcp2011
bcp2011 New Reader
9/20/18 8:17 a.m.

For folks who think the govt is over reaching here... do you support collusion as a consumer?  Competition doesn’t just mean prices, but all facets of competition, and that includes R&D. So it’s not that companies are mandated to spend the money to do research, but if they’re colluding to not compete on that basis then it’s not competition. 

spitfirebill
spitfirebill MegaDork
9/20/18 8:42 a.m.

I bet the technology is stored right next to GM's 300 mpg carburetor they have been suppressing for 40 years.  

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
9/20/18 8:46 a.m.
spitfirebill said:

I bet the technology is stored right next to GM's 300 mpg carburetor they have been suppressing for 40 years.  

And the ICE that runs on water.

Ransom
Ransom GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/20/18 8:54 a.m.

In reply to spitfirebill :

I don't think the manufacturers got together to agree not to pursue that one.

93EXCivic
93EXCivic MegaDork
9/20/18 10:01 a.m.
CJ said:

Competitors getting together to secretly collude or conspire regarding anything is illegal. 

Full stop.  Not sure if it matters if it's emissions or pricing.  Principle is the same.

As a publicly traded company, you can enter into agreements to cooperate with a competitor; however, the existence of those agreements has to be public. 

This is the important thing here.

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt PowerDork
9/20/18 10:03 a.m.
OldGray320i said:

I've heard the Euro Nanny State is worse than the US, so I wouldn't be surprised that there IS a requirement somewhere about implementing "green" tech developments as soon as feasible. 

Edit: what it says to me is that the development and implementation costs are prohibitively high, and would impact profit (which is NOT a dirty word).

It speaks to my perception that lots of effort and money spent for a negligible gain. 

We all want clean air, but we need and want a car, too... what's the right balance?

That seems a bit unlikely - US emissions laws are significantly tighter than Europe's, and cars sold in both the US and Europe often have the Euro model missing emissions control devices that the US models have. Just claiming collusion because the manufacturers all decided, "Hey, we can hit the targets we've been given without these" seems unlikely, and even if the manufacturers had compared notes on how to hit emissions targets without resorting to the technologies on that list, that hardly sounds like a crime. Now, if they'd been coordinating some sort of disinformation campaign in order to push back against proposed tighter smog regulations, I could understand bringing a case there...

93EXCivic
93EXCivic MegaDork
9/20/18 10:11 a.m.
MadScientistMatt said:
OldGray320i said:

I've heard the Euro Nanny State is worse than the US, so I wouldn't be surprised that there IS a requirement somewhere about implementing "green" tech developments as soon as feasible. 

Edit: what it says to me is that the development and implementation costs are prohibitively high, and would impact profit (which is NOT a dirty word).

It speaks to my perception that lots of effort and money spent for a negligible gain. 

We all want clean air, but we need and want a car, too... what's the right balance?

That seems a bit unlikely - US emissions laws are significantly tighter than Europe's, and cars sold in both the US and Europe often have the Euro model missing emissions control devices that the US models have. Just claiming collusion because the manufacturers all decided, "Hey, we can hit the targets we've been given without these" seems unlikely, and even if the manufacturers had compared notes on how to hit emissions targets without resorting to the technologies on that list, that hardly sounds like a crime. Now, if they'd been coordinating some sort of disinformation campaign in order to push back against proposed tighter smog regulations, I could understand bringing a case there...

That isn't really the point.

"The Commission is investigating whether BMW, Daimler and VW agreed not to compete against each other on the development and roll-out of important systems to reduce harmful emissions from petrol and diesel passenger cars. "

This could be seen as a form of price fixing. By agreeing to not compete with each other secretly, they are attempting to not spend the money on R&D and manufacturing thus changing the price of the product. This could be the illegal part at least in my understanding. I mean they could have done the same thing with seat padding and it would still be illegal. If one company had of agreed to not pursue this technology by themselves that would be fine but the fact they conspired secretly as a group to not develop it at all is the problem. 

bcp2011
bcp2011 New Reader
9/20/18 10:39 a.m.
93EXCivic said:
That isn't really the point.

"The Commission is investigating whether BMW, Daimler and VW agreed not to compete against each other on the development and roll-out of important systems to reduce harmful emissions from petrol and diesel passenger cars. "

This could be seen as a form of price fixing. By agreeing to not compete with each other secretly, they are attempting to not spend the money on R&D and manufacturing thus changing the price of the product. This could be the illegal part at least in my understanding. I mean they could have done the same thing with seat padding and it would still be illegal. If one company had of agreed to not pursue this technology by themselves that would be fine but the fact they conspired secretly as a group to not develop it at all is the problem. 

Yup.  Let's put emission technology aside because I feel it has a bad rep for car enthusiasts... Let's say it's cancer drugs instead.  Would those who feel it's fine feel the same way so pharma companies can make more money off of their existing products?  

Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
9/20/18 11:04 a.m.
93EXCivic said:
CJ said:

Competitors getting together to secretly collude or conspire regarding anything is illegal. 

Full stop.  Not sure if it matters if it's emissions or pricing.  Principle is the same.

As a publicly traded company, you can enter into agreements to cooperate with a competitor; however, the existence of those agreements has to be public. 

This is the important thing here.

yes.  all other discussions in this thread are merely just thrashing around cause we don't like emissions laws.. ohh and the robots took our jerbs...

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