Brussels: The EU opened an in-depth probe into alleged collusion by major German carmakers over anti-pollution technology Tuesday, a fresh blow to the scandal-hit industry three years after the notorious "dieselgate."
Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said BMW, Daimler and VW are suspected of agreeing "not to compete against each other on the development and roll-out" of anti-pollution systems for petrol and diesel passenger cars.
"If proven, this collusion may have denied consumers the opportunity to buy less polluting cars, despite the technology being available to the manufacturers," she added.
The probe lands three years to the day after shock revelations in the US that VW installed software in millions of its diesel vehicles around the world to cheat emissions tests.
The latest case does not involve these so-called "defeat devices", but instead focuses on the development of state-of-the-art control systems that reduce smog-causing pollution, such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.
The Commission said the probe was working with evidence of meetings and collusion by a group it called the "circle of five": BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen, in addition to VW units Audi and Porsche.
EU regulators working the investigation launched a series of raids a year ago in Germany.
Daimler and VW are widely reported to be putting themselves forward as whistle-blowers in the case, in order to win leniency with the EU authorities.