(Adds further details of cartel)
By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS, March 8 (Reuters) - Germany’s Mahle Behr , Japan’s Denso and four other car part makers have been fined a total of 155 million euros ($163.6 million) by the European Union’s competition authorities for having operated cartels in a number of their markets.
The ruling by the European Commission is the sixth to be made since it started investigating the automotive components industry several years ago. The four cartels identified on Wednesday related to air conditioning and engine cooling systems which operated until 2009 and started as early as 2004.
Mahle Behr was fined 62.1 million euros while Japan’s Sanden has to pay 64.6 million euros and Denso 322,000 euros.
The penalty imposed on French company Valeo is 26.7 million euros and Calsonic must pay 1.7 million euros. Panasonic avoided a fine as it alerted the Commmission to one of the cartels. All the companies admitted wrongdoing in return for a 10 percent reduction in their fines.
The cartels affected carmakers Volkswagen, BMW , Daimler brand Mercedes, Geely-owned Volvo, Suzuki, Nissan, Renault and Jaguar Land Rover.
“Today’s decision underlines that we do not accept cartels that affect the European market, wherever and however they may be organised, ”European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said. The markets for other vehicle components still on the Commission’s radar include car seats, steering systems, electrolytic capacitors and exhaust pipes. ($1 = 0.9472 euros) (Additional reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek and Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Greg Mahlich)