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Mercedes faces US investigation after pricing allegations

Mercedes-Benz USA and its dealers in the New York area are being investigated for alleged price-fixing, according to DaimlerChrysler. The allegations cover 27 Mercedes dealerships in metropolitan New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

The carmaker and its factory-owned dealer Mercedes-Benz Manhattan have been served with grand jury subpoenas asking for documents in connection with the criminal investigation.

The news comes just weeks after AM revealed that Mercedes' UK strategy of buying up all its major urban retailers had been criticised by the Consumers' Association as potentially anti-competitive and likely to push up transaction prices.

However, Mercedes' UK strategy and the resulting Consumers' Association criticisms are unconnected with the recent allegations in the USA. Many manufacturers, including Mercedes, are acquiring urban dealerships in the UK. Most say real estate prices in major cities are too high for independent dealers. Mercedes plans to own all its dealers in London, Manchester and Birmingham.

“Customers are still free to shop around,” says a Mercedes spokesman. “We are taking over the sites to offer better value and a better service to customers. Seventy per cent of our network will still be run by independent dealers.”

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