Uncertainties over the future of the European Union's Block Exemption Regulation (BER) and the economic climate are having a negative impact on the car dealer - manufacturer relationship, according to a UK dealer trade group.

The latest RMI National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) dealer attitude survey showed that dealers are experiencing a great deal of apprehension over manufacturer control and their economic prospects:

  • 94% of networks feel that the level of control exerted by their manufacturer will increase over the next year.
  • 84 per cent of dealers feel that their average retained margin on new car sales has fallen compared to a year ago.

However, on a day-to-day basis, dealers are very happy in their relationship with their manufacturer, the survey found.

  • 72% of networks are satisfied with the business relationship they have with their manufacturer.
  • 59% said that manufacturer requirements are fair to their dealerships.

NFDA director Sue Robinson said: "With the economy weakening, and discussions in relation to the Block Exemption Regulation still underway, it is natural for dealers to feel a certain amount of trepidation, and this is reflected in the lower overall score recorded by the survey compared to last year.

"With the NFDA's BER submission now with the European Commission, members will be aware of our lobbying activity undertaken to seek a positive outcome."

However, Robinson believes that, beyond these concerns, the dealer-manufacturer relationship remains positive.

"The survey shows that, despite dealer awareness of growing manufacturer demands, the relationship is actually very good. In the end good relations solve many problems, so this should bode well for the future."