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Monti accused of making threats in new EC price report

The latest European Commission report on pan-European new car pricing has been slammed as inaccurate and merely a veiled threat from competition commissioner Mario Monti that the days of Block Exemption as it stands now are numbered.

The car price report published this week showed that the UK was still the most expensive place in Europe to buy a new car, with Mr Monti warning manufacturers that the findings would prove an incentive for him to investigate 'restrictive' selling practices.

Steve Evans, CEO of independent car price monitor CarPriceCheck, said the report was a “softener for the likely changes to Block Exemption”.

“Such vitriolic talk from Mr Monti about the obstacles facing the buyer, so near to the public release of his review of the current manufacturer controlled system, is perhaps the strongest indication yet that the way cars are sold is about to change for the good of the consumer.

“He is simply keen to progress his own agenda aimed at eliminating market distortions.”

Mr Evans said that while the report may be headline grabbing, it fails to report accurately on the UK market, quoting manufacturers' RRP rather than the price the consumer pays, the transaction price.

“We all agree there is a disparity in pre-tax prices across the Continent, but the report doesn't recognise the emerging nature of new car prices for the UK buyer both from overseas and domestic suppliers. There is now clear price competition, consumers are winning, internet channels are operating transparent pricing policies, traditional dealers are suffering lower margins and manufacturers are under pressure,” Mr Evans said.

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