BELGIUM: EU probes Audi and BMW dealer contracts
European Union regulators on Tuesday said they expect to complete a probe by summer into new contracts between dealers and BMW and Audi.
According to Dow Jones Newswires, they also are in the process of making their "final analysis" of Peugeot's sales practices.
The report said both probes stem from a Brussels-imposed reform of how cars should be sold and serviced within the 25-nation EU - regulators have ordered car companies to allow dealers to sell different brands from the same showroom and to split their sales and services operations.
Dow Jones noted that, the EU Commission last summer began investigating claims from dealers in Germany and Italy that Volkswagen's upscale Audi division was illegally restricting dealer access to its cars.
At issue is dealers' right to sell different brands of cars in the same showroom, the report added - some dealers have complained BMW and Audi are restricting their ability to do this by imposing "overly strict" criteria on the appearance of showrooms.
The Commission last summer issued separate charges against Peugeot, accusing it of blocking consumers' access to lower-cost cars, Dow Jones said.
In the Peugeot case, regulators reportedly collected documents at Peugeot offices and dealerships in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark - an attempt to ensure customers in Germany and France, where prices are higher, could buy cars in Denmark and the Netherlands, where prices are lower.
On Tuesday, Dow Jones said, the regulators said Peugeot represented the last such case under investigation regarding parallel imports - the car companies face the threat of hefty fines if they fail to bring sales practices into line with EU law.
According to Dow Jones, the Commission also on Tuesday said a proposal is being prepared to reduce the differences between each country's car taxes, the major factor in big differences between sticker prices across the continent.
A Commission official declined to provide Dow Jones with further details of the proposal or a time frame - any single European car tax would be hard to implement since unanimous approval of all member states would be required.