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EC fines six car air conditioning and engine cooling suppliers
The European Commission has fined Behr, Calsonic, Denso, Panasonic, Sanden and Valeo a total of EUR€ 155 million for taking part in one or more of four cartels concerning supplies of air conditioning and engine cooling components to car manufacturers in the European Economic Area (EEA).
All six suppliers acknowledged their involvement in the cartels and agreed to settle the case. Denso was not fined for three of the cartels as it revealed their existence to the Commission. Panasonic was not fined for one of the cartels as it revealed its existence to the Commission. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy said:“Even though air conditioning and cooling components are not something you see as products, they are very much something you feel. In this case you might also have felt it in your wallet even though temperatures would still be regulated in your car. Today's decision underlines that we do not accept cartels that affect the European market, wherever and however they may be organised." Climate control systems serve to protect passengers from outside temperatures and allow them to regulate inside temperatures. Climate control components include heating-ventilation-air conditioning (HVAC) units, compressors, and e-compressors for electric and hybrid cars. Engine cooling modules (radiators and fans) serve to remove waste heat from the engine compartment. Today's decision concerning air conditioning and engine cooling components (thermal systems) is part of a series of major investigations into cartels in the automotive parts sector. The Commission has already fined suppliers of automotive bearings, wire harnesses in cars, flexible foam used (inter alia) in car seats, parking heaters in cars and trucks and alternators and starters. More investigations are ongoing, for instance concerning occupant safety systems, the EC states. The six car component suppliers addressed in this decision coordinated prices or markets, and exchanged sensitive information, for the supply of climate control components and engine cooling components to certain car manufacturers in the EEA. These suppliers are Behr (Germany), Calsonic (Japan), Denso (Japan), Panasonic (Japan), Sanden (Japan) and Valeo (France). The following table details the participation and the duration of each company's involvement in each of the four infringements:
The breakdown of the fines imposed on each company is as follows:
|1||Behr, Denso, Valeo||Sales of HVAC to VW-group, Daimler (Mercedes) and BMW||11/11/2005||02/12/2009|
|2||Denso, Sanden, Valeo||Sales of compressors to VW-group and PAG (Jaguar, Land Rover; Volvo)||29/11/2004||15/10/2009|
|3||Denso, Panasonic||Sales of e-compressors to Nissan/Renault||14/05/2009||21/10/2009|
|4||Calsonic, Denso||Sales of HVAC and radiators and fans to Suzuki (Swift, SX4)||17/10/2007||21/07/2009|
|Sanden||Sales of HVAC to Suzuki (Swift, SX4)||17/10/2007||21/07/2009|
|Valeo||Sales of HVAC to Suzuki (SX4)||23/09/2008||21/07/2009|
|Group||Supplier||Reduction Leniency||Reduction Settlement||Fine (EUR)|
- Denso received full immunity for revealing three of the cartels (thereby avoiding an aggregate fine of ca. EUR 287 million).
- Panasonic received full immunity for revealing one of the cartels (thereby avoiding an aggregate fine of ca. EUR 200'000).
- Behr, Calsonic, Denso, Sanden and Valeo benefited from reductions of their fines for their cooperation with the Commission investigation. The reductions reflect the timing of their cooperation and the extent to which the evidence they provided helped the Commission to prove the existence of the cartels in which they were involved.
- In addition, under the Commission's 2008 Settlement Notice, the Commission applied a reduction of 10% to the fines imposed on the companies in view of their acknowledgment of the participation in the cartel and of the liability in this respect.
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