Vauxhall boss Nick Reilly says Block Exemption must survive its forthcoming review in some fundamental form in order to preserve the quality standards customers have come to expect.
The present recall of more than half a million Corsa and Tigras, he said, is a classic example of the value of maintaining the regulation in some form – and demonstrates the difficulties opening up the market to non-traditional car retailers would pose.
Block Exemption in its current form is due to expire on 2002. The Eureopean Commission is to discuss its future form on February 12.
At a meeting with journalists at the manufacturer's Luton headquarters the Vauxhall chairman and managing director stressed that he recognised that the future of Block Exemption, was of prime concern to Vauxhall's retail network. - and that Vauxhall's message to its franchised dealers was that it would stand by its network, whatever changes may come.
But Mr Reilly was certain that European legislators would recognise the value of regulation in its review.
He said: “This legislation wasn't put in place by us, the car industry, but by European governments which recognised the need to protect the consumer on issues such as safety, servicing and efficiency of distribution. “But as long as we can still provide benefits to the consumer we will operate in whatever environment we face.”
tje He said the scenario of no Block Exemption did not “stand for very much scrutiny”.
“Look at the Corsa/Tigra recall. Some of our research shows that there could be some fatigue and we recalled the vehicles. How could that have been done if we didn't know who sold them?
Vauxhall is recalling 586,000 Corsa 'B's, predecessor to the latest model, and Tigras because of seat and seatbelt faults.
“We must have a system that allows a problem like this one to be taken care of,” said Mr Reilly. Mr Reilly also European legislators would not allow a free-for-all in the new car market, with supermarket chains selling vehicles, because of concerns about the provision of aftersales care and training of staff.