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Price disparity strengthens EC determination for reform

A new report by the European Commission has found that the price disparity between new car prices in the UK and the rest of Europe remains high.

The finding, the EC says, stengthens its determination to remove the obstacles to fair trade and will have a strong influence on its Block Exemption review.

While acknowledging prices in the UK have decreased or remained stable the EC found that it continues to be the most expensive market for 52 out of the 81 models surveyed.

The reports says: “For 18 models sold in the United Kingdom, prices have diminished by more than 5% since November 1, 2000.

“Since the prices in the UK are still much higher than elsewhere, many British consumers continue to buy their cars from Continental dealers. The commission still receives complaints from British consumers who encounter problems when purchasing a car in another member state. Many of these relate to high righthand drive supplements and long delivery times.”

Competition Commissioner Mario Monti re-affirmed his commitment to investigate restrictive selling practices by car manufacturers. “Manufacturers' behaviour will be fully taken into account this year when I will present proposals for the future legal framework for motor vehicle distribution to the commission.”

The EC recognises that UK car prices include the additional cost of UK spec and are affected by the high value of the pound.

Examples cited by the EC, on the differences between the average car price in Europe (calculated in euros) and stirling, based on prices on May 1, 2001, include:

  • Alfa Romeo 147 135.1%
  • BMW 520i 109.6%
  • Citroen Xsara 117.8%
  • Fiat Bravo 156.6%
  • Ford Focus 132.1%

    The EC analysis found Germany and, in some cases Austria, to be the most expensive markets. In Germany a total of 46 models out of the 81 surveyed are more than 20% more expensive than in at least one other eurozone country.

    An electronic version of the report will be displayed at the EC website sometime today.

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