Internet promises of mega car deals

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Car buyers were today offered the chance to beat high prices in the UK and purchase new vehicles direct from Europe via the Internet with the help of Consumers' Association.

The CA launched its carbusters.com web site, offering UK specification right-hand drive cars at European prices, in direct competition with the big car manufacturers.

Average savings on showroom prices in the UK are between £3,000 and £4,000 per car.

The launch coincided with speculation that the Government was considering ordering manufacturers to cut the price of cars following a Competition Commission inquiry into the industry.

CA director Sheila McKechnie welcomed the reports, but said the battle was not over yet. The carbusters.com initiative was essential to keep pressure on manufacturers to reform the industry.

She said: "Unless the pressure is kept up, price reductions might never happen.

"I don't think people should underestimate the arm twisting which is going to go on across Europe. The manufacturers are going to use every trick in the book to get out of this one."

Some industry experts were predicting reductions in the price of Rover cars, speculating that Alchemy would move to off-load its huge stock of unsold cars. But today the firm refused to comment on the claims.

Meanwhile, consumers wanting to make the most of cheap European prices can log on and look at the models on offer through carbusters.com.

To mark the launch Dr Tony Lewis, a GP from Budleigh Salterton, Devon, and his wife Penny, took delivery of two Ford Focus cars purchased through the new web site, saving themselves £6,500.

Dr Lewis said: "Ordering online was very easy. It took around three minutes from beginning to end. We have had to wait a couple of months to receive the car - but the saving more than makes up for the wait."

Mrs Lewis said: "From a woman's point of view ordering online was excellent and very easy. There was no hassle, no salesmen making you feel small or intimidated."

The web site has been extensively tested by the CA over the past three months during which 83 cars with full UK specification were purchased.

The CA will not be making a profit selling the cars, but will charge an administration fee to cover the costs of running the scheme.

Ms McKechnie said: "At last year's motor show thousands of people welcomed our decision to establish a scheme to help them get a fair price for new cars.

"Carbusters.com is a straight challenge to the car manufacturers in the UK to stop treating the UK as 'Treasure Island'.

"The scheme will deliver new UK specification cars to your door at thousands of pounds off the manufacturers' official list price.

"Carbusters.com will put the manufacturers' unfair pricing regime further under the spotlight and will at long last give the public the opportunity to beat the manufacturers and buy cars at a fair price."

The new scheme offers guaranteed right-hand drive cars, full UK specification, a price guarantee for 30 days, and home delivery of cars.

The most popular cars ordered through carbusters.com were the VW Golf, Ford Focus and VW Passat.

The saving on a VW Golf 1.6SE 5 door is £2,460 on the UK list price of £15,255. A VW Passat saloon 1.8 20v SE with a list price of £17,540 will sell through carbusters.com at £13,165.93.

Ms McKechnie added: "We are not going to stay around as a car dealer. We are the consumers' champion and there are lots of other scams we need to get to the bottom of.

"As soon as the car market sorts itself out and becomes a clean market with plenty of healthy competition then we will get out and do something else."

The CA is currently sourcing the cars it imports from dealers in Holland, Germany, Denmark and Belgium and is also looking into offering a financial package for buyers.

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