The European Commission ended the cozy relationship between car makers and authorized dealers Thursday, ordering them to share more technical data about their vehicles with independent repair shops and spare parts vendors.
The new rules take effect June 1.
They are intended to boost competition for maintenance services by giving independent garages better access to car information and independent vendors better access to spare parts.
EU antitrust chief Jaoquin Almunia spoke of "tangible benefits" to consumers. He said the new rules will cut both repair costs — which can be 40 percent of ownership expenses — and distribution costs that can be 30 percent of new-car prices.
Until now the EU has exempted car makers from antitrust rules, among others, by allowing authorized dealerships.
But in recent years while new car prices fell due to globalization and overcapacity, the cost of maintaining and repairing vehicles has not.
Until now car makers could ignore their own warranty obligations, if a car had not been serviced or repaired at an authorized dealership. Almunia said warranties can no longer be made conditional on where a vehicle is serviced.
The new repair rules take effect June 1, 2010.
Almunia left in place until 2013 an antitrust exemption for the sales of new cars for the dealers to allow them to adapt to the distribution rules.
Almunia said the new repair rules will mean that multi-brand dealerships coexist better with single-brand dealers fully.
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