Kruger: "It is important to fight for what you believe."

Kruger: "It is important to fight for what you believe."

BMW CEO Harald Kruger has robustly defended BMW over antitrust allegations brought against the company by the European Commission.

The European Commission has warned that manufacturers in Germany faced financial penalties for alleged collusion in the area of emissions filtering technology.

Speaking at the company's annual general meeting of shareholders in Munich, Kruger said the allegations were unfounded and that BMW had sought to 'lawfully coordinate industry positions'.

"Antitrust activities generally refer to secret agreements – for instance, over prices or sales territories – that place customers at a disadvantage. But that was certainly not the case here: Our objective was lawful coordination of industry positions," he said. "Our engineers have always developed the most innovative solutions. The fact that the first diesel in Europe to receive Euro 6 certification was a BMW – long before this was legally required – is a good example of this.

"Our position is very clear: The allegations brought by the European Commission are unfounded and we will use all legal means to defend ourselves against these charges, if needed. It is important to fight for what you believe. That is my opinion."

Kruger also told shareholders that BMW has acted correctly in the diesel debate. "Take the diesel debate, for example: We did not engage in deception," he said. "This has also been confirmed by the Munich Public Prosecutor's Office regarding the software fault. We provide our customers with clean and highly efficient diesel technology that meets all legal requirements."

He also said that BMW implemented the WLTP emissions testing standards early, "without making a fuss – because that is part of our culture".

"We are maintaining our position once again right now, faced with the European Commission's antitrust proceedings," he added.

BMW has nevertheless made a provision of EUR1.4bn over antitrust proceedings in the first quarter, which impacted its earnings. However, Kruger told shareholders that BMW remains on track to hit financial targets this year.

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