DaimlerChrysler has been fined E71.8 million ($66.05m) by the European Commission for abusing competition rules and fixing prices.

The EC ruled that the auto giant’s Mercedes-Benz division had fixed prices in Belgium, made non-German customers pay a 15% deposit to get cars from German dealers and restricted sales to independent leasing firms in Germany and Spain.

“Our investigation has also shown once more that the car manufacturers can largely control their distributors and punish those whose commercial behaviour they dislike,” stated competition commissioner Mario Monti. “Practices like the ones that DaimlerChrysler indulged in are therefore unacceptable and must be reprimanded severely.”

The deal is seen as a shot across the bows of the auto industry ahead of a review of the exemption from normal competition rules held by car companies. The Commission is expected to clamp down on auto firms trying to control new car prices and restrict cross-border sales.

News source: Financial Times