Dealers which sell cars will no longer have to offer servicing or repair facilities under new block exemption reforms announced by the European Commission.
Under the current regime, franchised dealers who are part of a manufacturer's network have an obligation to provide both sales and aftersales services if the carmaker insists.
But as part of the reforms to the block exemption, a dealership can choose between carrying out servicing itself or sub-contracting the work to another official repairer nearby.
'This approach will ensure that the customers of each distributor will be able to turn to at least one official repairer and will be informed by the dealer of the location of this repairer before acquiring the car and the distance between the sales outlet and the repair shop', said the EC.
Independent repairers who meet objective minimum criteria laid down by manufacturers will be able to become official service centres and have access to the same training, technical data, tools and spare parts as other manufacturer-authorised centres.
The overheads of garages that do nothing but service and repair cars are significantly lower than the workshops attached to more glamorous glass palace showrooms, and it is widely believed that opening the service and maintenance market to independent garages could reduce the cost of car repairs and servicing, providing a boon to fleet budgets.