Some $5 billion (with a B) in parts may have been overpriced
While we don’t talk about price-fixing here very often, an ongoing investigation into the practice by the United States Justice Department is now the “largest criminal antitrust probe ever,” according to the Associated Press.
Since the probe began four years ago, some 34 individuals have been charged and 27 companies have either pleaded guilty or plan to, collectively agreeing to pay more than $2.3 billion in fines. And the auto parts suppliers are not small operations. Companies such as Bridgestone, Denso, Yazaki, and Tokai Rika are all in the thick of it.
The probe, which is now investigating approximately $5 billion USD worth of parts, has looked into price fixing for “seat belts, ignition coils, steering wheels, air bags, windshield wipers and rubber parts that dampen vibration,” states the AP article.
Due to parts suppliers colluding on prices, its safe to say consumers have been footing the bill all along. Some of the price fixing has been performed for more than a decade.