Automakers facing antitrust probe to meet with DOJ next week

David McLaughlin

Automakers that are under U.S. antitrust scrutiny over an emissions agreement reached with California regulators are set to meet next week with the Justice Department, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Ford Motor Co., Honda Motor Co., BMW AG and Volkswagen AG agreed in July to voluntarily meet emissions targets offered by California regulators, defying a Trump administration proposal to freeze national standards at 2020 levels. Both would be less stringent than requirements put in place during the Obama administration.

The Justice Department’s antitrust division raised concerns in August that the automakers’ agreement may be in violation of antitrust laws and invited them to meet with the department to discuss the issue.

Representatives for Ford, Honda, BMW and VW declined to comment. The Wall Street Journal reported the planned meeting earlier on Friday.

The government’s inquiry into the agreement has come under fire from Democratic lawmakers who say it’s politically motivated.

During a hearing with a senior Justice Department official earlier this month, Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said the probe “appears to have less to do with protecting competition than with intimidating parties that don’t fall into line with the Trump administration’s plan to relax emissions standards.”