SACRAMENTO—Fifty-two auto parts manufacturers, including several rubber-related companies, have agreed to pay a total of more than $23 million to settle charges of antitrust law violations brought by the state of California.
The charges go back decades and have roots in the long-standing investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice of alleged price-fixing and bid-rigging by auto parts makers in their contracts with original equipment manufacturers, said the office of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a Dec. 4 news release announcing the settlement.
"Competition is vital to sustain our marketplace and keep products affordable for consumers," Becerra said in the news release. "Today's announcement is the culmination of years of work by our office to hold these auto parts companies accountable."
The largest single settlement in the California case was against Denso Corp., an affiliate of Toyota, which agreed to pay $4.25 million.
Other settlements of firms with rubber-related operations included:
- Toyoda Gosei, $983,000;
- Nishikawa. $825,000;
- Toyo Tire, $792,000;
- Bridgestone, $650,000;
- Tenneco, $383,000;
- Sumitomo Riko, $250,000;
- SKF, $167,000;
- Yamashita, $133,000;
- Continental, $83,000; and
- Inoac, $54,000.
The appendix to the settlement agreement cited more than 60 separate auto parts that allegedly were subject to price fixing and bid rigging, including automotive and brake hoses, shock absorbers, windshield wipers and washers, anti-vibrational rubber parts, body sealings, interior trim, air bags and sensors.
The settlement agreement with Denso, the largest of the settlements, stated that California waived all other recovery of any kind beyond the settlement amount, including court costs and attorneys' fees.
To date in the Justice Department investigation, 46 auto parts manufacturers have pleaded guilty to price fixing and bid rigging, and agreed to pay a total of nearly $3 billion in settlement fines.
More than 22 million cars are registered in California, the most of any U.S. state, according to the state's attorney general's office.