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Lidl pilots new car sales

Discount supermarket Lidl has begun selling cars in its native Germany.

Its website will offer the Opel Corsa for just under 11,000 euros (£10,000) and the Volkswagen Cross Polo for 14,000 euros (£12,800) -- a discount of about 25% off the suggested price.

Lidl is launching the sales together with German car distributor ATG-Automobile.

Germany's economy is in recession and unemployment is at 8.3%, but Lidl believes it can turn a profit in an industry that is bucking the economic downturn.

New car sales were up 21% in February year-on-year, largely because of a government stimulus plan that pays people 2,500 euros (£2,300) to replace cars at least nine years old with new ones.

But Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, the director of the Centre for Automotive Research in Gelsenkirchen, said previous efforts to sell cars online and through supermarkets have faltered.

"I think it will be very difficult for Lidl," he said. "People don't want to buy high-value products from a discount grocery store."

Mr Dudenhoeffer said that Quelle, a German online marketplace, tried to sell cars about five years ago.

"It didn't work, even though their site was visited fairly heavily," he said. He said Germans might be unwilling to abandon haggling over the price of a car.

"Germans like to go to the dealership," he said.


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