(Adds quotes, campaign group, details)

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS, July 19 - Daimler DAIGn.DE , Paccar PCAR.O and two other truckmakers were fined a record 2.9 billion euros ($3.2 bln) by EU antitrust regulators on Tuesday for taking part in a 14-year cartel.

The European Commission said the companies fixed prices and coordinated on the timing of introducing new emission technologies in 1997 and on passing on costs of those new technologies. Its overall fine was more than double the previous record for a group operating a cartel in the EU. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL8N1A51T3

Daimler received the biggest fine at 1.01 billion euros while Volkswagen-owned VOWG_p.DE MAN escaped a penalty because it had alerted the cartel to the European Commission.

"It is not acceptable that MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF, which together account for around 9 out of every 10 medium and heavy trucks produced in Europe, were part of a cartel instead of competing with each other," European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

Volvo, Sweden's biggest company by revenue, received a 670.45 million euro fine and Iveco, which is part of Italian truck and tractor maker CNH CNHI.MI Industrial, was fined 494.61 million euros.

DAF Trucks, owned by Paccar PCAR.O , was handed a penalty 752.68 million euros. The four companies admitted wrongdoing in return for a 10 percent cut in the penalties imposed. Scania did not settle and will continue to be investigated.

The highest fine prior to the truckmakers' sanction was 1.4 billion euros levied against a TV and computer monitor tubes cartel in 2012.

Campaign group Transport & Environment's director William Todts said regulators should do more to improve the environment.

"Truckmakers have to change, but so do regulators; they need to create competition on environmental performance. Introducing fuel economy standards is one key way of doing that," he said.

Truck makers have invested heavily in recent years to make their engines compliant with so-called Euro VI standards, which focus on reducing health-threatening nitrogen oxides.

The Commission has introduced more stringent regulation to curb pollution of health-threatening nitrogen oxides and introduced it in stages. So-called Euro 1 standards were unveiled in 1993 and since the start of 2014 any new vehicle must comply with Euro VI standards.

The more stringent emissions standards have forced truck makers to invest in expensive technologies such as exhaust treatment filters. ($1 = 0.9042 euros)

(Additional reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel and Edward Taylor in Frankfurt; Editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Susan Fenton) ((foo.yunchee@thomsonreuters.com)(+32 2 287 6844)(Reuters Messaging: foo.yunchee.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))


* EU hits truckmakers with record cartel fines

* VW's MAN escapes penalty after blowing whistle

* Collusion covered emissions tech timing as well as prices

(Adds details, comment, background)

By Foo Yun Chee and Laurence Frost

BRUSSELS/PARIS July 19 - EU regulators imposed a record fine of 2.9 billion euros ($3.2 bln) against Europe's biggest truckmakers on Tuesday for colluding over 14 years to fix prices and delay adoption of cleaner engine emissions technology.

Volkswagen's VOWG_p.DE MAN, Daimler DAIGn.DE , Volvo VOLVb.ST , Iveco CNHI.MI and DAF PCAR.O participated in an illegal cartel until 2011, the European Commission said. It launched its investigation that year after MAN blew the whistle, thereby escaping any penalty.

Like the VW diesel scandal it predates, the truckmakers' case exposed an industry conspiracy to reduce the cost of meeting restrictions on toxic nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, with Germany once again at its heart.

The collusion, initiated by senior executives meeting at hotels and trade shows, was later delegated down the chain of command to be "organised at a lower level by the truck producers' subsidiaries in Germany", the European Commission, the EU's executive body, said after a five-year investigation.

Daimler was fined 1 billion euros, the biggest penalty, followed by 753 million euros for DAF, 670 million for Volvo and 495 million for Iveco, which at the time was part of Fiat FCHA.MI . The companies have already taken accounting charges roughly matching the sanctions.

Truckmakers fixed vehicle prices to pass the costs of required improvements on to customers, shielding their profits, the investigation found.

The combined fine of 2.9 billion euros was more than twice the previous EU record - a 1.4 billion euro penalty imposed in 2012 against TV and monitor parts cartel. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL8N1A51T3

"Today's decision underlines the importance of a functioning competitive market to foster the development and dissemination of cost-efficient low-emission technologies," the Commission said in a statement.

Daimler shares were down 1.6 percent at 1423 GMT and Iveco parent CNH was 1.1 percent lower. Volvo was up 2.4 percent.

All five truckmakers admitted wrongdoing in return for reduced fines, the Commission said. Although MAN reported the price-fixing to escape punishment, VW stablemate Scania remains under investigation after failing to reach a settlement.

Any eventual Scania fine would be dwarfed by the multibillion-dollar bill still facing VW over its separate car emissions scandal, in which it installed engine software designed to cheat tests for NOx, blamed for many thousands of deaths as well as acid rain. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N19K0EA

MAN and Daimler both confirmed the settlements. DAF and Iveco did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

"Without the settlement we would have been facing many more years of proceedings," said Volvo Chief Executive Martin Lundstedt. "While we regret what has happened, we're convinced these events have not impacted our customers."

The EU regulator disagreed, in comments that may embolden owners of the 30 million trucks plying European roads to consider their own legal action in the wake of the findings.

"Road haulage is an essential part of the European transport sector and its competitiveness is contingent on the prices of the vehicles used by transporters," the Commission said.

Over the years, truckmakers have invested heavily in emissions technologies such as exhaust filters to meet ever-tightening standards from Euro I in 1993 to Euro VI, introduced two years ago.

Rather than competing to meet exhaust standards early, the manufacturers "also coordinated on when to actually introduce new technologies", the EU investigation found.

"Delaying the introduction of environmentally friendly technology in agreement with competitors is not my idea of competition," EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said.

The EU should still do more to "create competition on environmental performance", said William Todts, a spokesman for campaign group Transport & Environment. "Truckmakers have to change, but so do regulators."

($1 = 0.9053 euros)

(Writing by Laurence Frost; Additional reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel and Edward Taylor; Editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Susan Fenton) ((foo.yunchee@thomsonreuters.com)(+32 2 287 6844)(Reuters Messaging: foo.yunchee.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))