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Probe into Irish motor retailers

Five motor brands in the Republic of Ireland are under investigation after a TV investigation raised allegations of a price cartel.

The Irish Competition Authority has recommended to the country’s director of prosecutions that a number of dealers should be charged with alleged price fixing. It coincides with the exposé by RTE Prime Time which identified dealers for Ford, Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Citroën and Volvo allegedly involved in a cartel.

The programme included comments from one motor retailer who suggested dealers could be fined 1,000 Euros if they did not keep within the set prices.

The Competition Authority says it has been investigating the motor retail sector for two years. During this period around 50 properties, mainly business premises, have been raided as part of investigations into car price fixing.

China’s car exports hit record

For the first time, China’s exports of cars have exceeded its imports as the country’s motor manufacturers like Landwind continue their drive to expand into the global marketplace.

Official figures for the year to the end of October show that exports had more than doubled to 135,000 units, while imports dipped 1.6% to 128,000. Chinese officials have warned of rising overcapacity in the country’s new car market, and say there is already a glut of around two million vehicles.

Many of the exports are trucks and low cost cars, targeted at developing countries in Africa and Asia. However Europe and America are seen as their growth markets, and Chinese carmakers are expected to have a presence at the 2006 British Motor Show.

Carmakers slashing jobs

General Motors is the latest carmaker to announce huge job cuts in a bid to stem its losses. The manufacturer plans to close nine vehicle assembly and engine plants in North America, with the loss of 30,000 jobs. GM wants to reduce its costs by $7bn a year from 2006.

Meanwhile, chairman of GM Europe, Frederick Henderson, has been called back to the US to replace John Devine as GM’s chief financial officer. A replacement will be announced soon.

Elsewhere, Ford is to cut 1,200 manufacturing jobs in Germany, Seat is shedding 1,340 posts in Spain and DaimlerChrysler recently warned it could be forced to cut 8,500 jobs.

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