According to the latest European Commission figures, Polish car prices are on average 9% cheaper than those in Finland, the cheapest country using the single European currency.
Under freedom of trade commitments entered into by Poland and the other nine countries joining the EU in May, buying cars and shipping them around the EU should be simple. And, apart from in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, better bargains are available in the new members than in Euro-zone countries, putting the focus on Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Malta and (Greek) Cyprus.
In a statement, the commission said: 'Substantial savings on cars are still possible for cross-border shoppers, especially those willing to shop in the new member states. Poland has emerged as the cheapest EU country to buy cars so it will be no surprise if more and more Germans cross the country's eastern borders to buy cars."
Indeed, Germany, followed by Austria, remained the EU's most expensive country for cars, with German prices 10% above those in Finland. However, executive, multi-purpose or sports utility vehicles cars are not always cheaper in the new eastern and southern European members.
The Commission noted that the Audi TT is more expensive in Poland than elsewhere. Furthermore, prices increased in Poland from May 2003 to May 2004 by 8.7% and 8.9% in Latvia, although they decreased in Estonia by 5.8%, Lithuania by 5.4% and the Czech Republic 1.9%. Looking at the older member countries, Denmark - still outside the Euro-zone - remained the cheapest country, with prices 7% below those in Finland.
Meanwhile, car prices in Italy fell 1.1% and slightly increased in Britain (by 0.3%), plus Germany and the Netherlands (1.7%). Countries with traditionally low pre-tax prices had similarly stable markets, increasing moderately in Denmark (up 2.5%), remaining level in Greece and falling slightly in Finland (by 2.9%). Eurozone headline inflation was 2.4% in the same period.
Generally, car prices are narrowing in the single-currency bloc. Among the 90 cars covered, 25 models now have differences exceeding 20%, compared to 31 in 2003.