The European Commission on Monday said it was looking into a complaint that Volkswagen AG’s Audi division had illegally restricted dealers from offering cheap cross-border sales.

“There is a complaint that so-called cross supplies are impeded by a variety of measures set forward by the manufacturer,” commission spokesman Tilman Lueder told the Associated Press (AP).

At issue is the right of dealers in European Union nations where cars are expensive to import cars from EU countries where cars are cheaper and resell them in their home markets, the report said, adding that the EU has clamped down on automakers accused of preventing such “cross supplies.”

Lueder reportedly cautioned that the Audi investigation was at a “preliminary stage.”

“We have asked the manufacturer, Audi, to explain, to voice an opinion on the complaint,” Lueder told AP. “They will have to reply in a reasonable time frame, then we will decide if we need to take this further.”

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The Associated Press noted that EU regulators fined Volkswagen €90 million ($US112 million) in 1998 for seeking to prevent Germans and Austrians from buying cheaper VW and Audi cars through distributors in Italy while other automakers including DaimlerChrysler and General Motors have also been fined.

Under EU rules, manufacturers can no longer force dealers to sell only one brand, retailers aren’t required to offer after-sales service and they are able to sell cars outside their home territory, AP added.