When it comes to car maintenance and auto parts, the corner mechanic typically gets the bad reputation (rightfully or wrongfully so) for swindling his customers. But the game is much bigger than that, and a global investigation has resulted in nine Japanese auto suppliers and two former executives pleading guilty to price fixing.
In a report by the New York Times, the guilty parties have agreed to pay $740 million in criminal fines, and it is only the latest in a string of such crimes. According to the report, since 2011 fines have been levied for more than a dozen types of price fixing acts, for more than 30 different types of parts. Brands affected include Chrysler, Ford and GM, in addition to the American elements of Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota.
Supplier Mitsuba Corporation will have to fork over $135 million in charges, and agree to plead guilty to one count of obstruction of justice. The latter is in a result of the fact that a high-level US executive with the company sent a memo to destroy evidence.
The other companies that are instructed to pay fines include Hitachi, Jtekt, Valeo, T.RAD and others. Though it is estimated that the price fixing of parts has made a $5 billion impact on the US auto market, it is unclear exactly how that impacts the price of each vehicle. The respective automakers affected by the price fixing said that they are looking into it themselves, but one has to wonder, how much more are we paying per car because of price fixing?