Opportunity to cut car prices 'wasted'

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The Independent Online

Motor manufacturers came under fire last night for failing to introduce widespread price reductions on new cars on the eve of a critical day for the industry.

Motor manufacturers came under fire last night for failing to introduce widespread price reductions on new cars on the eve of a critical day for the industry.

Vehicle makers were said to have "wasted the opportunity" afforded by the launch of the new X registration and the introduction of tougher competition rules.

In a statement which could result in potential buyers continuing their "wait and see" approach, the Consumers' Association said that manufacturers were confusing buyers by using a mixture of reductions, cashbacks and bogus price cuts on vehicles where specifications had been reduced.

The association said that manufacturers appeared not to have noticed that record numbers of UK consumers were buying in Europe or delaying their purchase until clarity returned to the market.

Phil Evans, principal policy adviser at the Consumers' Association, said: "Some manufacturers have done what the consumer wants, which is to cut list prices. But others are bragging about price cuts which are really marketing gimmicks.

"The new X-reg plate coincides with the Department of Trade and Industry's new rules for car retailing which means that high street dealers have to be offered the same discounts as fleet buyers. Individual dealers will also be free to offer discounts without the sanction of the manufacturer and will be able to source from Europe."

Alan Pulham, franchised dealer director at the Retail Motor Industry Federation, said that some makers of upmarket cars had cut prices substantially and he hoped volume producers would follow suit.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said the Consumers' Association's ability to criticise had been undermined by the fact that it had been selling cars itself over the Net.

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