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EU set to run car sales off the web

Online dealers say they'll carry on regardless...
Written by Sonya Rabbitte, Contributor

Online dealers say they'll carry on regardless...

E-tailers insist they will continue to compete in the online car sales market, ignoring European Commission proposals to ban them and supermarkets from doing so. In an initiative unveiled this morning, the EU suggested that car manufacturers should have the right to exclude internet car dealers and supermarkets from their network of approved dealers. The proposal, recommended as an addition to a new law due in 2003, claims internet sellers and supermarkets will distort fair pricing and limit customer choices. But online car seller Jamjar.com said the proposal will not change the way it operates. Justin Skinner, communications manager for Jamjar.com, said the company had an established relationship with a leading dealer and would not be affected by any reform. Skinner said he remains confused as to how the EU reached its conclusion on pricing and choice, claiming that Jamjar.com had sold 10,000 cars since setting up 18 months ago at lower prices than traditional dealers. Debra Lenton, PR manager with Virgin Cars, also claims the ruling has made little difference to Virgin's established relationships with car dealers. She also dismissed the Commission's suggestion that choice and price would be affected, claiming that Virgin stocked 1,300 models from 29 different dealers and offered discounts of up to 25 per cent on manufacturers' prices. The proposal is "unfair and against the principles of fair competition", she said. Andrew Warner, marketing director with MSN's car portal Carview, said the recommendation overlooks the fact that many online car retailers already have agreements with car dealers. Warner said that Carview works with five dealers in the UK and those relationships are unlikely to change in the event of any reform. The EC's proposals will also lower restrictions on dealers trading across geographical boundaries, and Warner added that the proposed reforms may actually see an influx of dealers going online to benefit the new international trading opportunities.
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