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RMI presses home UK dealers case on Block Exemption to EC

UK car dealers were represented at a hearing of the European Parliament's economic and monetary policy committee on the future of Block Exemption yesterday afternoon.

The Retail Motor Industry Federation, representing franchised and independent dealers, was in Brussels arguing for a relaxation of the control manufacturers have on them.

RMI chief executive David Evans told the hearing: "In the main car dealers and independent garages believe there should be special rules for vehicle sales and distribution, service or repair, essentially because of the specialist nature of the product.

"To improve customer satisfaction independent service and repair outlets should have access to all manufacturer information about vehicles so they can provide the highest services. The RMI also wants the control vehicle makers have over franchised dealers to be relaxed, perhaps even letting dealers sell any make of car they want from a single showroom.

"If this is achieved the process for consumers of buying and running a car will become increasingly flexible, not just in terms of improving the price, but also providing for the consumer a reliable and efficient, integrated sales and servicing network that unites franchised car dealers, independent service and repair outlets and allows scope for internet-based retailers."

Other points he stressed in the few minutes given to each body represented at the hearing included the need for the contract termination notice period a manufacturer can give a dealer to be a minimum of five years and two years from the retailer. Dealers should also be free to choose finance, insurance and warranty suppliers. Independent garages should have technical information and on-board diagnostic data in order to maximise customer choice for vehicle servicing.

Among the other organisations represented at the hearing were the Consumers' Association and Virgin Cars.

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