Mercedes-Benz UK, embroiled in arguments with its dealer network and accused of hiking the prices of right-hand drive models sold to British buyers in Europe, nonetheless sold more cars in Britain in the first 10 weeks of this year than in any of the first 10 years of its UK operation.

Britain is the third largest market in the world for Mercedes-Benz after Germany and the USA, and the company claims that sales for the first quarter of this year will set a new record.

In the first 10 weeks of this year more than 15,000 new cars were sold and sales have now passed 20,000, around 12 percent ahead of last year.

UK vehicle distributors and their dealers face losing the European Union ‘block exemption’, which permits exclusive dealer-distributor franchise agreements, within the next few years.

Mercedes-Benz UK, apparently anticipating this, has given all its dealers 12 months’ notice of termination and plans to set up wholly-owned ‘Experience Centres’ at strategic locations throughout the country.

These will be supported by smaller sales and service centres but very few are likely to be existing Mercedes outlets. A dealer group is understood to be mounting a legal challenge to the plan.

Mercedes-Benz UK has also been accused by consumer groups of being behind a head office decision to hike the prices of right-hand drive cars supplied by European continent M-B dealers to British buyers trying to avoid paying higher UK retail prices.

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