G.M.’s Venture in China Fined $29 Million Under Antimonopoly Law
BEIJING — General Motors’s main joint venture in China was fined $29 million on Friday on charges that it suppressed competition by enforcing minimum sales prices for dealers. It is the latest in a string of penalties against non-Chinese auto brands under the country’s antimonopoly law.
Chinese regulators have punished companies in several industries, likemilk and medical devices, under the 2008 law in what appears to be an effort to force down consumer prices.
G.M. had announced in August 2014 that Shanghai G.M., its joint venture with the state-owned Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, was under investigation by antimonopoly regulators.
The Shanghai Price Bureau said that Shanghai G.M. improperly hurt competition by enforcing minimum prices dealers were allowed to charge for Cadillac, Chevrolet and Buick models.
That “disrupted the normal order of market competition,” said a statement by the price bureau.
Setting minimum retail prices is a common practice in many markets, but lawyers say Chinese regulators appear to regard it as an improper restraint on competition.
The price bureau’s statement said the penalty was set at 4 percent of Shanghai G.M.’s annual sales, or 201 million yuan, about $29 million.
G.M. vies with Volkswagen for the status of the top-selling vehicle brand in China.
Sales of G.M. vehicles in China are up 8.5 percent so far this year, to 3.4 million.
“G.M. fully respects local laws and regulations wherever we operate,” the company said in a statement. “We will provide full support to our joint venture in China to ensure that all responsive and appropriate actions are taken with respect to this matter.”
Audi, Volkswagen’s luxury unit, was fined $40.5 million, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Chrysler brand received a smaller penalty in 2014 on similar charges of enforcing minimum sales prices.
大众汽车的豪华品牌奥迪被罚款4050万美元，菲亚特克莱斯勒汽车公司(Fiat Chrysler Automobiles)的克莱斯勒品牌曾因限制最低销售价格，在2014年遭受了类似处罚，不过罚款金额较少。
State media cited an official saying Daimler Benz’s Mercedes unit was guilty of violations, but no penalty was announced. Toyota Motor Corporation said its Lexus unit was under scrutiny, but no results have been announced.
官方媒体引用一个官员的说法，称戴姆勒奔驰(Daimler Benz)的奔驰品牌也有违规，但没有宣布具体惩罚措施。丰田汽车公司(Toyota Motor Corporation)表示，其雷克萨斯品牌正在接受审查，但尚未宣布结果。
The industrywide investigation began in 2014 after complaints of foreign auto brands abusing their control over supplies of spare parts to overcharge consumers. In the case of Mercedes, regulators said purchasing the spare parts needed to assemble one car would cost as much as 12 new vehicles.