AM Online

EC puts VMs under scrutiny

The European Commission will not release its six-month study into the operation of block exemption regulation 1400/2002 until May 2008, but the initial views make for gloomy reading, according to former EU Commissioner (1989-1999) Karl Van Miert.

“New car prices are converging, but there are still differences,” he says “Technical information systems are complex, in-transparent and time consuming.”

Van Miert says Toyota, DaimlerChrysler, Fiat and General Motors have each faced investigations over claims that they are making it difficult for independent repairers to source technical information. The Commission has also looked at BMW, which it says has made life difficult for dealers trying to open multi-franchised showrooms, and Peugeot, for avoiding parallel trade.

“The regulation is designed to enhance the position of independents and protect their rights,” says Van Miert.

The EC is also concerned about rising standards for dealers, which Van Miert suggests is forcing up car prices, remuneration and bonus schemes.

Manufacturers’ attempts to counter the growth in non-OE parts suppliers by lowering their own prices will be investigated if they increase prices once competitors have been driven out.

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