EU competition regulators have raided several car parts makers involved in producing vehicle exhaust systems, including French firm Faurecia (>> FAURECIA), Germany's Eberspaecher Group and TenneCo (>> Tenneco Inc) of the United States, as part of a wider probe into suspected price fixing in the auto industry.
Regulators in the United States, Japan, Europe and Canada have already levied multi-dollar fines in recent years against various car parts makers for fixing prices of various products including seatbelts, radiators, windscreen wipers and air conditioning systems.
The European Commission said on Tuesday the companies targeted in the latest investigation into the exhaust systems market may also have operated a cartel and abused their dominance. It did not name the companies nor the countries where the raids took place, in line with its usual policy.
However, Faurecia, which is 52-percent owned by French carmaker Peugeot Citroen (>> PEUGEOT), confirmed the raid.
"The European Commission antitrust authorities have launched investigations into suppliers of emission control systems," the company said. "Faurecia is cooperating fully with the European Union authorities."
Meanwhile TenneCo (>> Tenneco Inc) said the EU regulator raided its Edenkoben administrative facility in Germany and that it had also received a related subpoena from the U.S. Department of Justice.
"The company is fully cooperating with the authorities," TenneCo said.
Eberspaecher, which is based in Esslingen, near Stuttgart, has around 7,300 employees and generated sales of more than 2.8 billion euros ($38.59 billion) in 2012, also confirmed the EU raids.
A spokesman for Belgian car parts supplier Bosal said his company was not involved in the EU investigation.
The Commission, which can fine companies up to 10 percent of their global turnover for breaching EU rules, is investigating suspected cartels involving more than 100 vehicle components made by more than 70 companies.
Earlier this month it hit German engineering group Schaeffler, Sweden's SKF (>> AB SKF) and three Japanese car parts makers with a total 953.3 million-euro fine for operating a cartel for car and truck ball bearings.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, Robert-Jan Bartunek, Laurence Frost in Paris and Bernie Woodall in Detroit, Edward Taylor and Ilona Wissenback in Stuttgart; Editing by Robin Emmott and Greg Mahlich)
By Foo Yun Chee