Dealers across Europe are worried about possible changes to Block Exemption rules but feel powerless to influence EC commissioner Mario Monti's decision making.
That is one of the major conclusions from the first-ever pan-European dealer survey on the issue, carried out in June by NOP World for PWC and Automotive Management. It questioned 144 dealers in Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Spain.
While most dealers admit that change is inevitable, the overwhelming majority (72%) want Block Exemption retained in its current form. Only 24% believe it will be left intact.
The survey found that 17% of dealers had already planned for a change in Block Exemption.
A further 56% said they were thinking about what changes they had to make while 28% confessed they hadn't started thinking about Block Exemption. These 'head in the sand' dealers were from the same group that thinks Block Exemption will be retained in its present form.
Elaine Hardy of Hardy & Associates, experts in car distribution, said: "It's hardly surprising they haven't done anything because it is the manufacturers who will dictate changes just as DaimlerChrysler has done with Mercedes-Benz in the UK.
"It can't be that they are all very conservative." Ms Hardy believes the overriding message was that dealers had a total lack of faith in manufacturers.
"They feel so on their own that they are not doing anything about Block Exemption," she said.