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ABT close to deal with Volkswagen

Autobytel UK executives believe they are close to ending a long dispute with Volkswagen Group UK. Last year, VW and Audi dealers were warned not to sign with the internet-related company.

Kevin Turnbull, now Inchcape group e-commerce director as well as ABT UK chief executive, said: “VW at first misunderstood our position. We are the customers' champion, and work with franchised dealers - ABT is not a broker. “We suspended the membership of VW and Audi dealers who signed up and I believe others will want to join once this is resolved.”

Volkswagen Group UK has continued to show its sensitivity about internet-related companies. Managing director Robin Woolcock has strongly denied claims by Virgin Cars that Volkswagen and Audi were talking to the company about buying cars directly from European HQs.

Mr Woolcock said: “We are not talking to Virgin. There is no dialogue going on at all. Neither Audi nor Volkswagen has made any commitment to Virgin and we have no intention of doing so.

“No responsible manufacturer would expect its dealers to invest in premises and equipment while, at the same time, setting up an arrangement to cut them out from the selling process.”

Mr Woolcock pointed out manufacturers were contracted, under European law, to supply franchised dealers “exclusively” and said no manufacturer was going to “throw that arrangement away by this kind of action”.

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