Fleet News

CA draws battle lines over UK price 'rip-off'

THE Consumers' Association has launched a campaign to end the high prices of new cars in the UK, condemning the current pricing regime as the 'Great British rip-off'. The launch coincided with the publication of a CA report that showed UK consumers face the highest pre-tax prices for 60 out of the 74 best-selling cars in the European Union.

The report is based on EU figures from last November that showed, for example, that a Rover 214 was 51.9% more expensive in the UK than in France, that a Ford Focus cost 27.8% more in the UK than in Portugal, and that a Volkswagen Passat was 24% dearer in the UK than in the Netherlands. The CA blames much of the pricing discrepancy on the Block Exemption, arguing that it prolongs manufacturers' dominance in the market.

The association claims motor cars should not justify the exemption on the need to control the market to guarantee safe aftersales services, because most drivers only stay within the franchised network while their car is in warranty. In submissions to the Office of Fair Trading and Competition Commission, the CA has called for an end to the exemption, saying it gives manufacturers too much control over their dealers.

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