Home News & Events COMPETITION LAW NEWS: 141 million euro fine by EU Commission in Car Wire Harnesses Cartel Case

COMPETITION LAW NEWS: 141 million euro fine by EU Commission in Car Wire Harnesses Cartel Case

Thursday, 25 July 2013 23:13

The European Commission has recently fined car parts suppliers Sumitomo, Yazaki, Furukawa, S-Y Systems Technologies (SYS) and Leoni a total of € 141,791,000 fines for operating five cartels for the supply of wire harnesses to leading car manufacturers Toyota, Honda, Nissan as well as Renault.

Wire harnesses conduct electricity in cars, for example to be able to start the motor, to open the window or to switch on the air-conditioner. They are often described as the 'central nervous system' of the car. The cartels were widespread within the European Economic Area (EEA). The companies so identified were deemed to breach competition law principles by coordinating the prices and the allocation of supplies of wire harnesses to the respective car manufacturers and this both within the Japanese market as well as within the EEA.

It is interesting to note that Sumitomo alone was not fined for any of the five cartels as it benefited from immunity under the Commission's 2006 Leniency Notice for revealing the existence of the cartels to the Commission. The other four companies benefitted from reductions in their fines for their cooperation in the relative investigation applicable under the Commission's leniency programme. Moreover, since the above-mentioned companies agreed to settle the case with the Commission, their fines were reduced by a further ten per centum (10%).

Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy, Joaquín Almunia, is quoted to have said that “The cartelised car parts were sold to Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Renault including for cars produced in Europe. Today's decision shows the first results in the Commission's wider investigative effort to detect and sanction any illegal cartels in markets for car parts. Such cartels may harm the competitiveness of the automotive industry and artificially inflate prices for final buyers of cars".