On 8 March 2017 the European Commission announced fines totalling €155 million for six companies which had been engaged in one or more of four cartels relating to the supply of air conditioning and engine cooling components to various car manufacturers operating within the EEA.
The Commission found that the six companies co-ordinated prices and/or markets and exchanged sensitive information at meetings in both Europe and Japan and through other collusive phone and email communications between 2004 and 2009.
Since all six companies admitted that they had been involved in and were liable for the cartels and agreed to settle the case, they each benefited under the 2008 Settlement Notice from a reduction of 10% in the amount of any fines imposed upon them. Additionally, Panasonic (which participated in one of the cartels) received full immunity under the 2006 Leniency Notice and Denso (which participated in all four cartels) was similarly not fined for its involvement in three of the cartels because they each revealed the existence of the respective cartels to the Commission. Denso avoided aggregate fines of €287 million while Panasonic avoided aggregate fines of €200,000. The Commission also reduced any fines imposed to reflect the companies’ co-operation.
This is the Commission's sixth cartel decision in the car components sector since 2012. The global investigation also involved several other authorities, including the United States and Japan.