Washington — The U.S. Justice Department has opened an antitrust investigation into four car-makers including BMW, Ford, Honda and Volkswagen, over an agreement the companies struck with California to honor the state’s emissions standards.The deal, announced back in July.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Honda, BMW, Volkswagen and Ford are the targets of an antitrust investigation, the DOJ probe seeks to learn if the four automakers broke federal antitrust laws by agreeing with one another to follow emissions standards outside of the proposed regulations from the Trump administration.The antitrust division has sent a letter to the automakers indicating the Justice Department had opened a preliminary inquiry.The newspaper cited sources close to the matter, but Honda confirmed the DOJ has, indeed, been in contact with the automaker.
“Honda will work cooperatively with the Department of Justice with regard to the recent emissions agreement reached between the State of California and various automotive manufacturers, including Honda,” the company said in a statement.
A Ford statement on the investigation said, “We have received a letter from the Department of Justice and will cooperate with respect to any inquiry,” as relayed in a tweet by auto industry reporter Jeff Gilbert.
In July, Ford, BMW, Volkswagen and Honda said they had reached a deal to adopt standards that were lower than Obama-era rules but higher than the Trump administration’s 2018 proposal.
The investigation, still in its early stages, reportedly centers around whether the companies agreement with California unfairly stifles auto sale competition in the state.The Trump administration is preparing a plan to strip California’s authority to set tougher vehicle efficiency regulations than the federal government’s, even while agencies continue finalising a rollback of national standards.