BERLIN, July 28 (Xinhua) -- Leading automotive parts supplier Bosch participated in secret meetings with German car makers, Spiegel magazine claimed on Friday, referencing internal documents filed by Volkswagen at the Federal Cartel Office.
According to Spiegel, Bosch illegally helped car makers collude on the development of cheaper AdBlue urea tanks to purify diesel emissions which made them too small to meet relevant emissions regulations.
Following this reading, the installation of illicit software to falsify results during emissions tests, first discovered by U.S. authorities and known as the global "dieselgate" scandal, would have been a result of a cost-saving measure by the German automotive cartel.
All car makers wanted Bosch to develop a lower dosage of AdBlue liquid "because of the limited size of urea tanks," Spiegel said, citing an unnamed Volkswagen manager. "Nobody wants to report the true motivations behind this limitation to authorities," he added.
Bosch said it was unaware of any wrongdoing. Bosch CEO Volkmar Denner told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag "they were only made aware (of the allegations) through media reports."
Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche have been found guilty of fraud by U.S. courts following suits brought by the environmental protection agencies CARB and EPA. A U.S. federal judge ruled in April 2017 that Volkswagen had to pay a "2.8-billion (dollar) criminal fine for rigging diesel-powered vehicles to cheat on government emissions tests."
German car makers purportedly also coordinated their emissions strategies in South Korea after Mercedes-Benz models were flagged by local authorities. Their objective was to prevent the introduction of individual tests and registration procedures because German diesel vehicles fell short of regulatory standards.
So far, car industry representatives have been reluctant to comment on what they have widely described as "media speculations." BMW has stressed that not all information exchanges between car makers are illegal.
The German Federal Cartel Office is similarly tight-lipped on the subject and has referred to an earlier statement that it is currently not investigating claims of illegal collusion between car makers. However, European Union anti-trust authorities have confirmed they were launching an investigation into the matter.
The German state attorney in Stuttgart is currently investigating Bosch employees on the suspicion that they were accessories to fraud in relation to "emissions cheating" practices at Volkswagen.