European Competition Watchdog Raids Tire Giants

Pirelli, Michelin, Continental and Nokia facing antitrust investigations.

Paul Myles, European Editor

February 1, 2024

2 Min Read
Michelin 1
Europe's tire giants under the microscope by cartel investigators.

European regulators are back on the cartel-chasing trail, this time targeting top automotive tire manufacturers including Pirelli, Michelin, Continental and Nokian Tyres.

European Commission antitrust investigators have raided facilities of the tire giants this week as part of an investigation into a possible price-fixing cartel, Reuters reports.

Previous cartel-cracking drives by the commission investigated almost a dozen cartels in the car and trucking industry, among them suppliers of automotive bearings, car seats, braking systems and one that restricted competition in emissions abatement for new diesel passenger cars.

Probably the most infamous case was finalized in 2016 when the Commission found that MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF broke EU antitrust rules. Those manufacturers colluded for 14 years on truck pricing and on passing on the costs of compliance with stricter emission rules. Collectively they were hit by a record fine of €2.93 billion ($3.2 billion).

The Commission acts as competition enforcer in the European Union and reports it has raided tire makers in several EU countries but declines to provide further details while in the midst of an investigation.

However, a Pirelli spokesman tells Reuters the Italian company has acted fairly and “always in total compliance with all rules and regulations. Pirelli informs that it is guaranteeing full support to the authority in the ongoing investigations.”

Germany’s Continental also confirms that investigators are at its company’s offices while Michelin says its facilities in France are included in the EU investigation and it is complying with competition rules.

Investigators also travel to Finland to open investigations into Nokian and the company says it is cooperating with the EU authority.

The Commission says products related to the inspections were new replacement tires for passenger cars, vans, trucks and buses sold in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. It says the raided companies may have breached EU rules against cartels. Companies found guilty of breaching antitrust rules face fines of as much as 10% of their global turnover.

An EU executive says in a statement, “The Commission is concerned that price coordination took place amongst the inspected companies, including via public communications.”

 

 

About the Author(s)

Paul Myles

European Editor, Informa Group

Paul Myles is an award-winning journalist based in Europe covering all aspects of the automotive industry. He has a wealth of experience in the field working at specialist, national and international levels.

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