German car executives used to be a relatively close-knit group. Despite their fierce competition, they would frequently have friendly meetings to consider such things as joint purchase of non-branded parts or setting standards for cars like the top speed at which it is safe to lower a convertible’s roof.
But such amiable cooperation has now come to a screeching halt. Accusations of betrayal are flying between BMW, VW and Mercedes parent Daimler after European Union competition investigators raided the offices of the three car companies over concerns that the firms had participated in an illegal cartel.
The raids on Monday at VW’s offices in Wolfsburg and Audi’s offices in Ingolstadt as well Daimler’s head office in Stuttgart were accompanied by officials from Germany’s own cartel office. A similar raid was carried out last week at BMW’s offices in Munich. Unlike Monday’s raids, which were arranged in advance, BMW had no warning that it was about to be inspected.