Independent vehicle dealers and consumer groups in Canada and the United States want to see new laws similar to those announced last week by the European Commission to stop car manufacturers from restricting "grey market" sales.

The North American groups say the new EC laws became necessary when manufacturers tried too hard to keep grry market sales out of Europe and note that DaimlerChrysler, the company that has taken the harshest measures against grey markets in North America, was fined 71.825 million euros last October by the European Commission.

Volkswagen and General Motors Holland were also hit with similar fines. The European Commission found that manufacturer imposed restrictions hurt consumers and new rules to protect the grey market were needed.

Brian Osler, President of the North American Automobile Trade Association (NAATA), applauded the EC changes.

"It is completely unreasonable for manufacturers to restrict cross-border sales within a free trade zone like North America or Europe. Consumers should have a right to buy a car wherever they want, as long as safety and emissions standards are met."

The new rules in Europe protect the rights of grey market dealers to buy cars for export. A European Commission press release notes that manufacturer restrictions on cross-border sales "...hamper what is a perfectly legitimate trade, and they will in future be prohibited."

"If manufacturers get too aggressive in fighting the grey market in Canada and the US, they will end up facing similar laws here too," says Osler.

"Consumers are fed up with manufacturer price fixing. They want the grey market to bring them identical cars at lower prices."