Hogan Lovells obtains competition law clearance for automotive industry cooperation in wire harnesses

Press releases | 06 September 2023

Led by Munich partner Dr Christoph Wünschmann, international business law firm Hogan Lovells has obtained clearance from the German Federal Cartel Office for the "Standardisation Initiative Wire Harness" on behalf of the ARENA2036 innovation platform and leading companies in the automotive industry.

The cooperation, led by ARENA2036, involves 20 companies from all stages of the value chain in the production of wire harnesses. Wire harnesses – the entirety of cables in a motor vehicle – are currently manufactured to a large extent manually and are among the most expensive automotive components. The aim of the cooperation is to increase automation in the wire harnesses production, also in order to keep pace with major trends such as digitalisation and electromobility.

For the first time worldwide, the cooperation is developing standards for an automated production of wire harnesses. The results so far have been incorporated in a standard of the DIN (the German national organisation for standardisation) that is to be published soon.

The Federal Cartel Office has given the green light for the cooperation and the DIN standard in a comfort letter and states in its press release that competition law does not stand in the way of such cooperations. At the same time, the Federal Cartel Office explains the complex legal questions that arise in "mixed cooperations" such as this one with elements of standardisation as well as research and development. The companies were able to successfully dispel initial concerns in this regard with the help of Hogan Lovells.

Hogan Lovells team for ARENA2036

Dr Christoph Wünschmann (Partner), Dr Lukas Rengier (Counsel), Benedikt Weiß (Associate) (all Antitrust)