Commission officials making the unannounced inspections were accompanied by counterparts from relevant national competition authorities. At this stage the manifold, catalytic converter and diesel particulate manufacturers are not being named.
A statement from the Commission said: “The fact that the Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself.
“The Commission respects the rights of defence, in particular the right of companies to be heard in antitrust proceedings. Unannounced inspections are a preliminary step into suspected anticompetitive practices.”
There is no legal deadline for the Commission to complete inquiries into concerns of anticompetitive conduct.
Last week the Commission fined five automotive bearing suppliers nearly €1 billion for operating restrictive practices and cartels for more than seven years.
JTEKT’s fine was waived for bringing the activities to the Commission’s attention, but Schaeffler was fined €370,481,000, SKF €315,109,000, NTN €201,354,000, NSK €62,406,000 and NFC €3,956,000.
The Commission is also investigating other products including airbags, safety belts and steering wheels, air conditioning, engine cooling products and systems.