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BMW u-turn means competition watchdogs won't investigate dealer Carwow ban

The Competition and Markets Authority will not investigate claims that BMW UK restricted its dealers’ use of new car sites, after the car company did a U-turn on its decision.

Last year new car portal, Carwow, told the CMA that BMW UK was stopping its dealers from listing BMW and Mini cars on the portal, and asked the CMA to investigate whether this breached competition law.

The CMA says it carried out an initial assessment of the complaint and met both Carwow and BMW UK.

Following this BMW UK told the CMA of its decision to change its policy in order to allow its dealers to work with Carwow and similar internet-based new car portals.

Given this change of policy, the CMA has decided against initiating a formal investigation into BMW UK at this time.

As the UK’s competition authority, the CMA works to promote competition for the benefit of consumers and carefully examines any concerns brought to it.

Ann Pope, CMA senior director of anti-trust, said: “Online comparison tools can promote competition in many markets and help consumers make informed choices.

“The CMA therefore welcomes BMW UK’s change of policy.”

She pointed out the decision not to investigate does not amount to a statement as to whether any business has infringed competition law.

James Hind, Carwow chief executive, said: "We welcome BMW's decision to allow its dealer network to use Carwow.

"At Carwow we strive to bring increased transparency to car buyers, enabling them to make a fully informed decision about their purchase, while providing car dealers with the opportunity to reach more in-market consumers and sell more cars.

"This morning's announcement is therefore great news for both buyers and dealers, and we look forward to working with BMW and its dealers to bring these popular cars to Carwow buyers."

In a statement BMW UK said: "With an increasing number of customers now looking to use online sales channels, and given the experience we have with BMW Retail Online, the time is now right to enable our UK retailers to explore the additional sales opportunities that are becoming available through internet based new car portals.

"Over the coming months we will be working with our retailers and learning from their experience to ensure we continue to provide a consistent premium buying experience for those customers who choose to purchase a BMW or Mini product through these new channels."

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