The Commission has fined a cartel for alternators and starters between Denso, Melco and Hitachi. This is a part of major investigations into alleged cartels in the automotive parts sector. A summary of the decision dating from 27 January 2016 was published in March 2016.

Following an immunity application by Denso, the Commission initiated an investigation regarding a cartel between the three Japanese undertakings. This investigation revealed that the companies maintained frequent contact between September 2004 and February 2010, in order to minimize competition between them. In particular the companies (i) coordinated their responses to certain calls for tenders issued by car manufacturers, (ii) shared out certain vehicle manufacturers and projects between themselves in terms of which of the three would supply alternators and starters and (iii) exchanged commercially sensitive information.

Car manufacturers whose tenders were involved, may be expected to consider the possibility of submitting damage claims against the three presumed cartelists.

Although communications regarding the cartel took place entirely outside the European Economic Area (EEA), the Commission concludes that the cartel affected European customers as alternators and starters were also sold directly to car manufacturers in the EEA.

The Commission granted Denso full immunity from fines, because Denso notified the Commission of the existence of the cartel. Subsequently, Hitachi and Mitsubishi Electric also submitted leniency applications and received a 30% and a 28% reduction of their fines, respectively.

The presumed cartelists reached a settlement with the Commission in which they acknowledged their participation in the cartel and their liability for it in exchange for a quicker decision and a 10% (further) reduction in fines.

In the end, the settlement resulted in a fine of EUR 110.929.00 being imposed on Mitsubishi and a fine of EUR 26.860.000 being imposed on Hitachi.

The Commission’s summary decision can be found here.