Audi, VW, other German automakers face antitrust class action over alleged cartel

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by Jim Orr

A class action lawsuit over alleged antitrust violations has been filed in California against five German carmakers: Audi, Porsche, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen. The lawsuit accuses the companies of illegally conspiring through a secret agreement to share information and limit technological innovations. The lawsuit would include anyone who purchased vehicles made by one of the five automakers in the U.S. between 2006 and 2017.

According to the lawsuit, the five German automakers – along with parts supplier Robert Bosch GMBH – met regularly though secret “working groups” in order to negotiate “clandestine, exclusive agreements and [share] information with each other about the development of their vehicles, costs, suppliers and markets.” Through this cartel arrangement, Audi, Porsche, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen were able to stifle innovation and gain a competitive advantage over their competitors, the lawsuit alleges.

Information about the existence of the cartel arrangement between the five automakers and Bosch came about as a result of a 2016 raid by the German Federal Cartel Office, which was investigating a steel cartel. The investigation revealed that Audi, Porsche, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen had formed more than 60 working groups to share information and stifle automotive innovation. Volkswagen has admitted to attending more than 1,000 meetings as part of these working groups.

The origin of the German automotive cartel can be traced to a meeting between the companies in 2006 in which they agreed to restrict the size of urea tanks used to control vehicle emissions. The lawsuit alleges that this agreement was the origin of the “defeat device” installed on more than 11 million diesel vehicles by Volkswagen as part of the Dieselgate emissions cheating scandal. Volkswagen agreed to pay $14.7 billion in 2016 to settle the allegations of emissions cheating in the U.S. arising out of the Dieselgate scandal.

Since the Dieselgate scandal was made public, other German automakers besides Volkswagen have become embroiled in separate emissions scandals. Lawsuits filed against Mercedes have accused the company of emissions cheating on its BlueTEC diesel-powered models. Audi has also been accused of CO2 emissions cheating on gasoline-powered models manufactured between 2012 and 2017.

Auto Emissions Cheating Lawsuits Filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson

If you own or lease a vehicle that was involved in emissions cheating by an automaker, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit over the lost value to your vehicle and excess costs charged by the manufacturer. The first step in taking legal action is to speak with an experienced attorney who can advise you regarding your legal options and guide you through the process of filing a claim.

The law firm of Heygood, Orr & Pearson has represented numerous clients who were the victims of emissions cheating by auto manufacturers. One of our partners, Michael Heygood, was named to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee that helped to oversee thousands of lawsuits filed in the U.S. against Volkswagen as part of the Dieselgate emissions cheating litigation. Our law firm also represents hundreds of owners of Audi gasoline models, Dodge RAM and Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel trucks, and Chevrolet and GMC diesel truck models that have been implicated in emissions cheating allegations against their respective manufacturers.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have also filed hundreds of lawsuits involving product liability, commercial litigation, class actions, and other legal matters. Our lawyers have taken on some of the world’s largest corporations on behalf of our clients to ensure that they receive the compensation to which they are entitled. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we believe that when corporations such as Audi and Volkswagen mislead their customers, we believe that these companies should be held accountable for their wrongdoing in a court of law.

For more information about the emissions cheating lawsuits filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson and to find out whether you may qualify to file a lawsuit, contact our office by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few brief questions to get started.