China’s anti-monopoly regulator on Thursday announced its first-ever punishment of foreign carmakers for price-fixing, fining a Chinese venture of Volkswagen AG and the China sales unit of Fiat’s Chrysler a combined $46 million.
The penalties raised the possibility of similar fines being levied against other global players such as Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz and Tata Motor Ltd’s Jaguar Land Rover, which are being probed for possible anti-competitive behaviour.
The price regulator in Hubei province said it would fine the sales unit of Volkswagen’s joint venture FAW-Volkswagen Automobile Co Ltd 249 million yuan ($40.6 mn) for fixing Audi prices.
Chrysler’s China sales unit will be fined 32 million yuan for operating a price monopoly, anti-trust regulator the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) NDRC Shanghai branch said.
Separately, three Chrysler dealers in Shanghai and eight Audi dealers in Hubei would also be fined.
While many industries in China have come under the spotlight as the authorities intensify efforts to bring companies into compliance with an anti-monopoly law enacted in 2008, the auto sector has been under particular scrutiny amid accusations by state media that global car makers are overcharging consumers.