Germany is famous for its cars – manufacturers like Audi, Mercedes or Volkswagen are sold all over the world, and the car industry is a crucial part of Germany’s economy. In September 2015, the perfect image started to crumble with “dieselgate”, when authorities in the United States discovered, that Volkswagen had programmed their diesel engine cars to activate emission controls only laboratory testings.
Now, there is a new scandal with Germany’s flagship industry. According to the magazine Der Spiegel, there have been secret meetings since the 1990s between managers from Audi, BMW, Daimler, Porsche and Volkswagen, which would make it one of the world’s biggest cartels. In more than 60 work groups, they have coordinated plans for technical advices, suppliers, and diesel emission controls. When these accusations turn out to be true, this would be an illegal cartel, and thus, the biggest economic scandal in Post-war Germany. This affair was discovered rather by accident, when the cartel authority investigated against steel producers because of arrangements. Volkswagen did some internal investigations, to find out, if there have been arrangements with the steel industry. Shortly after, they turned in a self-denunciation at the cartel authority.
This scandal can become a danger for the German economy, the car industry was responsible for 65 percent of German exports in 2015. The influence on German politics is also enormous. In 2013, the president of the Association of the Automotive Industry Matthias Wissmann wrote a letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel, to ask her to vote against stronger CO2 regulations by the European Union, “keeping in mind the jobs, the automotive industry provides”. Taking together direct employees and the jobs in supplier companies, there are 1.5 million people working in the automotive sector in Germany. With this huge influence, the car industry managed to have their interests represented by German government.
England and France have announced plans to stop sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040, other countries could follow them. Electric cars will be the future of the automotive industry, and the news of the last days will add up to this. On the stock market, the shares of electric car company Tesla went up immediately, when the news about the cartel scandal came out.