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EU Accuses Car Battery Makers of Cartel Activities

 |  November 30, 2023

European Union antitrust regulators have accused a consortium of automotive starter battery manufacturers, alongside trade body Eurobat and its service provider Kellen, of orchestrating a cartel aimed at manipulating battery prices. The allegations come as a result of an investigation by the European Commission, which issued a statement on Thursday outlining the breach of antitrust laws by the accused parties, reported Reuters.

The European Commission revealed that the five starter battery manufacturers involved in the alleged cartel are Banner, Clarios, Exide, Elettra, and Rombat. These companies collectively produce 12-volt lead batteries, commonly utilized to initiate combustion engines in most automobiles. These batteries serve essential backup functions within vehicles, including powering lighting and centralized locking systems.

According to the statement released by the European Commission, the accused parties collaborated to establish a pricing strategy known as the ‘Eurobat Premium System.’ The system involved the creation, publication, and agreement to use new indices in price negotiations with car producers. The cartel’s operations reportedly spanned from 2004 to 2017, aiming to manipulate a crucial element of the final battery price.

The Commission alleges that both Eurobat and its service provider, Kellen, were not only aware of the purported misconduct but actively contributed to it by assisting the battery manufacturers in implementing and running the Eurobat Premium System.

One of the accused companies, Clarios, declined to comment on the ongoing investigations and legal proceedings, stating, “We do not believe that we are exposed to any material risk. We are cooperating with the authorities in their investigations.”

The European Union’s competition enforcer is expected to continue its probe into these allegations, potentially leading to fines and legal consequences for the companies involved if found guilty.

Source: Reuters