Car makers accused of going slow on dealership reform

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The Independent Online

Carmakers have been slow at issuing new contracts with their distributors as they are obliged to do under new EU rules, according to car dealers and vehicle repairers.

The new rules, which were issued by Brussels last year, aim to reduce the control that suppliers have over their dealer networks by allowing more than one same-brand dealer to trade in the same geographical region. The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) said the delay was putting undue pressure on dealer networks who would be unable to properly study the documents before Wednesday, when the new rules come into force.

It accused manufacturers of keeping dealer networks in the dark "until the 11th hour" so that their competitors were not made aware of the tactics they are using to implement the new rules. Alan Pulham, director of NFDA in the UK, told The Independent: "Many manufacturers have delayed issuing contracts until the final month before the regulation becomes total law".

Meanwhile independent repairers said they were having difficulty gaining accreditation with manufacturers under the new rules. Mark Taylor-Jones of the Authorised and Independent Repairers Organisation (AIRO), said many independent repairers would only be able to service older cars. Vehicles that are still within their warranty period will be serviced by authorised dealers. "This delay means that independent repairers are not going to have a chance to consume the standards, at least before the end of the year," he said.