Six companies that supply air conditioning and engine cooling components to car manufacturers in the European Economic Area (EEA) have been fined for their involvement in one or more of four cartels.
Germany’s Behr, Japan’s Calsonic, Denso, Panasonic and Sanden and France’s Valeo agreed to settle the case with the European Commission with a fine totalling €155 million (£134.7m).
Panasonic was not fined for one of the cartels as it revealed its existence to the Commission.
Climate control systems serve to protect passengers from outside temperatures and allow them to regulate temperatures in cars. They 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.
According to the Commission, some of the supplier meetings were held at management level in Europe and they engaged in lower level contracts in both Europe and Asia.
The exchanges included discussions on prices and so-called “requests for quotations”. These are the tenders issued by car manufactures to source components for their cars.
The car brands concerned were well known names like Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Volvo, Suzuki and Nissan/Renault.
Caommissioner 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.”