DaimlerChrysler's competitors are ready to follow its example and terminate dealer contracts in an attempt to take direct control of the market, according to the new head of the body representing European Mercedes-Benz dealers.
John Graves, president of the UK Dealers Council for Mercedes-Benz, has been elected chairman of the equivalent European organisation, the Federation of Europeenne Amicales de Concessionaires de Mercedes-Benz - a move said to demonstrate 'unequivocal' support for the MB-UK dealers campaign against the termination of their contracts.
The current chairman of the Dr Peter Ritter has stepped down early to allow Mr Graves to take up the position immediately.
The decision came in advance of today's DaimlerChrysler annual meeting in Berlin at which Mr Graves presented an open letter to shareholders urging them to question the DaimlerChrysler board about the decision of the UK management team to terminate contracts.
Mr Graves said: "DaimlerChrysler is not acting in the interests of the consumer and we want it to withdraw its termination notices immediately.
"Should these plans come to fruition it could have dire consequences for the rest of the UK market. This is likely to spread across Europe as other manufacturuers follow DC-UK's actions.
"Our European colleagues have reiterated to our customers, MPs and MEPs their dismay and anger over DC-UK's termination plans."
Members of the campaign will be at the AGM to press their case to members of the DaimlerChrysler board.
In addition to being unlawful, MB-UK dealers also say the termination notices are anti-competitive. Plans to set up experience centres in London, Birmingham and Manchester "are a clear indication that the manufacturer wants to control the market", the dealers say.