Free trade in EU cars seen within 10 years spacey

European Union rules which restrict free trade in the car market and, it is claimed, lead to higher prices will be scrapped within a decade, according to the chairman of Britain's largest vehicle dealer.

The so-called block exemption, which allows car manufacturers to restrict sales to one dealer in a specific area, is being reviewed by the European Union. Retail groups and manufacturers are presenting their cases for the exemption, which is likely to continue in some form for another decade.

But Sir Trevor Chinn, chairman of Lex Service, told a conference: "I don't believe that block exemption will survive after the next extension. I don't think it's desirable but I think it will happen."

New block exemption arrangements would allow dealers to sell more than one type of car in separate premises under separate management and permit them to buy spare parts from sources other than the manufacturer. Both these changes are opposed by car makers.

Sir Trevor welcomed the stability a new exemption would bring but said the European car industry would face big changes anyway. "The changes to block exemption will play a part in this process of change but their effect will be less than the economic and customer pressures."

The car market in Europe was going to stay competitive due to over-capacity and non-European imports. The increased reliability of cars was cutting revenues from servicing.

Sir Trevor said the dealership structure was uneconomic and in Britain alone the number of car dealers would fall by around a third to deal with the changing market conditions. There would have to be more focus on customers, he added.

He said customers were prepared to travel longer distances to buy a car than they were to get it serviced.

"This leads to the logical conclusion that the dealer network should be structured with a smaller number of easily accessible car showrooms and a series of satellite service centres," Sir Trevor said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific