(CN) – The European Commission on Wednesday slapped Swedish truck manufacturer Scania with a whopping $1.03 billion fine for its role in a price-fixing cartel that spanned 14 years.
The commission’s investigation into Scania and five other manufacturers of medium and heavy trucks began in 2011 with unannounced inspections of headquarters and production facilities after one of the truck makers tipped the regulator off and requested immunity. All but Scania settled with the commission in 2016.
According to the commission, Scania colluded with the others over a period of 14 years to fix prices on medium and heavy trucks as well as to pass the costs of new technology to meet the EU’s tighter emissions standards to consumers. The regulator noted its investigation uncovered nothing to indicate the truck makers colluded to avoid complying with emissions standards, like the defeat-device scandal involving Scania’s parent company Volkswagen.
“Today’s decision marks the end of our investigation into a very long-lasting cartel,” competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement. “This cartel affected very substantial numbers of road hauliers in Europe, since Scania and the other truck manufacturers in the cartel produce more than 9 out of every 10 medium and heavy trucks sold in Europe. These trucks account for around three quarters of inland transport of goods in Europe and play a vital role in the European economy. Instead of colluding on pricing, the truck manufacturers should have been competing against each other – also on environmental improvements.”
The commission’s decision paves the way for victims of the truck cartel to sue for damages in national courts, since a commission decision constitutes binding proof of illegal antitrust behavior.
Founded in 1891, Scania currently operates production facilities in Sweden, France, the Netherlands, India, Argentina, Brazil, Poland and Russia, and assembly plants in 10 nations in Africa, Asia and Europe employing over 44,000 people worldwide.
The company specializes in big rigs over 35,000 pounds, buses, motor coaches and industrial and marine diesel engines.
Scania reported revenue in 2015 of nearly 98 billion Swedish krona, or $12 billion.