European Commission (EC) authorities have fined four major automotive component producers a total of EUR141.8m (US$182m) for operating wire harness cartels to Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Renault.

Yazaki, Furukawa, S-Y Systems Technologies and Leoni were penalised for operating the cartels across the whole of the European Economic Area (EEA), while Sumitomo was not fined as it benefited from immunity through the Commission’s 2006 Leniency Notice, following its revelation of the system to the EC.

All other companies received reductions of their fines for cooperation in the investigation under the Commission’s leniency programme. Since the companies agreed to settle the case with the Commission, their fines were further reduced by 10%.

“The cartelised car parts were sold to Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Renault including for cars produced in Europe,” said EC competition policy vice president, Joaquin Almunia.

“Today’s decision shows the first results in the Commission’s wider investigative effort to detect and sanction any illegal cartels in markets for car parts.

Such cartels may harm the competitiveness of the automotive industry and artificially inflate prices for final buyers of cars”.

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The Commission noted the companies coordinated prices and allocation of supplies of wire harnesses to the respective car manufacturers.

The cartel contacts took place both in Japan and in the EEA.