The (price-fixing) Truck Cartel lasted formally for 14 years from 17.01.1997 until 18.01.2011 and was only revealed to the public years later in 2014.
The generally accepted view in the field is that damage can be detected up to the end of 2014, with some going further and predicting 2015 as the final date, but even the most conservative experts are betting on 2013.
These are the most important stages and events of its history:
- The 6 leading truck manufacturers (DAF, Iveco, MAN, Mercedes, Volvo/Renault and Scania) formed a cartel in the period between 17.01.1997 and 18.01.2011 on manipulating prices at “gross list” level, the coordinated, delayed introduction of vehicles equipped with newer emission technologies and on the passing on of the costs for the development of emission technologies to the buyers.
- The first meeting between senior managers of the truck producers was held in Brussels in a hotel on 17.01.1997. The Truck Cartel was practically organised there and this meeting was the starting point of this long lasting cartel period.
- Between 1997 and 2004, meetings were held frequently at senior management level, sometimes at trade fairs or other events. This was complemented by phone conversations and lasted for the first seven years of the cartel.
- From 2004 onwards, the Cartel was managed via the truck producers German subsidiaries, with participants generally exchanging information electronically. During this second period, the contacts between the competitors became more formalised and the participants exchanged information mostly by email (but there were also face-to-face meetings, for example in Munich on 4-5th of July in 2005).
- On 20.09.2010 this serious infringement is considered to have ended for MAN when it reported about the existence of the Cartel to the EU Commission and applied for the leniency programme. MAN was later 100% exempt from paying the imposed fine. It is important to note however, that this only applies to the fine, because MAN was not (and could not be) exempted from compensating the damage caused to the customers.
- In January 2011 the Commission conducted unannounced inspections at the headquarters of the involved manufacturers
- The illegal price-fixing agreements is considered to have formally ended on 18.01.2011, which is the date on which inspections began, but the effects lasted for many years after that.
- By the formal decision of the European Commission on 20.11.2014, preliminary proceedings were opened against the manufacturers.
- MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler (Mercedes) and Iveco also cooperated with the EU Commission under the leniency program and provided evidence which helped them to prove the existence of the Cartel. As a result these companies also received reduced fines.
- On 19.07.2016 the Commission imposed record fines of over 2.9 billion Euros on the participating truck producers (DAF, Iveco, MAN, Mercedes, Volvo/Renault) for forming a cartel involving medium and heavy trucks.
- Scania was unwilling to accept the settlement decision and decided to fight against it. So in 2016 investigations against Scania were continued.
- On 27.09.2017 Scania was also found to have broken the EU antitrust rules. Their fine amounted to 880 million Euros. The company filed an appeal against the decision.
- The European Court has rejected Scania’s application and upheld the € 880 million fine in its decision of 02.02.2022.