Car parts price-fixing fines for Hitachi and Mitusbishi Electric

Car alternator Image copyright Thinkstock

Mitsubishi Electric and Hitachi have been fined €137.8m (£105m) by European Union regulators for price fixing.

The penalty is for fixing the price of car alternators and starters.

Denso, the world's second biggest car parts maker, avoided a fine for telling the authorities about the existence of the cartel.

According to Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, the companies met at each other's offices and restaurants to skew prices between 2004 and 2010.

"Breaking cartels remains a top priority for the Commission, in particular when they affect important consumer goods, such as cars," she said.

"Today's decision sanctions three car part producers whose collusion affected component costs for a number of car manufacturers selling cars in Europe, and ultimately European consumers buying them.

"If European consumers are affected by a cartel, the Commission will investigate it even if the cartel meetings took place outside Europe," she said.

More investigations

Hitachi and Mitsubishi Electric will see their fines reduced by 10% as a result of their cooperation in the case.

The decision is part of a series of investigations into cartels in the automotive industry and the Commission has already fined suppliers of automotive bearings, wire harnesses, foam used in car seats and parking heaters.

It is also looking into possible cartels in car thermal systems, car lighting, seat belts and steering wheels, car exhaust systems and electrolytic capacitors, among others.

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