Professor Garel Rhys, director of the Centre for Automotive Industry Research, Cardiff University Business School, said the 2002 renegotiation of the Block Exemption (which governs European car distribution) was forcing manufacturers and retailers to cover all eventualities. 'If the renewal of the Block Exemption leads to a more liberal regime, then everything is possible,' he said.
He highlighted the success Asda had made of selling new cars a decade ago, saying the company had only stopped doing so because of weaknesses in other non-core areas of its business. Rhys said it was unlikely that a manufacturer would supply supermarkets with discounted vehicles, but added that servicing and maintenance issues would be easily surmountable if a supermarket struck an agreement with a garage chain.
Meanwhile, Ford has established a joint venture with Jardine Motors Group covering 11 Ford and four Iveco Ford dealerships, trading primarily as Polar Motor Group. These will be run as a model for other Ford dealerships, developing 'best practices' to be spread through the franchise network.