Affected by the car cartel? The average compensation is around €2,500
The Supreme Court has already ratified 15 of the 21 fines imposed by the National Commission for Markets and Competition (CNMC) on manufacturers and 130 dealers and will shortly confirm the rest. They are accused of restrictive competition practices to control the distribution and after-sales market in Spain, specifically for setting maximum discounts and commercial conditions to the detriment of consumers. These settlements resulted in consumers buying a vehicle for more than they could have bought it.
The affected period includes purchases of new cars made between February 2006 and August 2013. It is estimated that more than 10 million individuals and companies will be able to claim compensation for an average of around 2,500 euros. Close to 90% of the distribution market is behind the premiums.
Seven years of 'The Brands Club'
When the Council of the National Commission for Markets and Competition issued the resolution on file S/0482/13 related to the car cartel, it revealed a hidden reality: for seven years there was a car cartel made up of the main manufacturers which were called 'The Club of the Brands'
The brands involved throughout these years are Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Citroën, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Jeep, Kia, Lancia, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel , Peugeot, Porsche, Renault, Seat, Skoda, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo. Some brands, although they participated in the car cartel, did not take part of the sale prices, so their buyers would not have been affected and a claim would not be viable, although each specific case would have to be assessed. These brands are Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Porsche and Volvo.
The brands received a million-dollar penalty of 171 million euros from which the Volkswagen Group (Audi, Porsche, Skoda, Volkswagen and Seat) got rid of for having collaborated with the CNMC after uncovering this framework. In December 2019, the manufacturers filed a claim with the National Court and the Supreme Court, but both have dismissed these claims. Now is the time for them to answer to buyers. Therefore, if you bought a new car between February 2006 and August 2013, you can claim compensation within one year from the publication of the Supreme Court ruling. The compensation can be around 10% or 15% of what you paid for the car, to which legal expenses and interest should be added. The figure will depend on the date of purchase, the make and model of each car. If you paid 25,000 euros for your car, you could receive 2,500 euros.
Keys to claim compensation
• If you bought a car, but no longer have it: the claim will be more complicated, but you have the right to receive compensation for the damage suffered. If the car has been sold, part of the damage suffered with the purchase is compensated or recovered, so it must be taken into account and not claimed (since the brands would use this to justify that you have achieved unjust enrichment). For this, the expert report is essential.
• You bought a second-hand or 0 km car: In principle you could claim, but the case is not so clear and it would have to be studied individually.
• What documentation do I need to claim?: The documents that justify the purchase and acquisition price, documents that detail the characteristics of the vehicle (technical sheet, circulation permit or transport card) and documents that justify the transmission of the vehicle in the case that you sold it.