BRUSSELS - Nissan will set common pre-tax car prices across all euro markets over the next three years - the first volume carmaker to do so.
The strategy means Nissan will abandon the industry-wide policy of pricing lower in markets where taxes are high. Within Euroland (the 11 countries where the single currency is being adopted), prices have varied by as much as 13.9 percent for the Micra, 15.7 percent for the Almera and 20.5 percent for the Primera, according to an EU study.
'It should be clear to the consumer that when they buy a Nissan they pay one pre-tax price,' said a Nissan spokesman.
Many of Nissan's competitors have strongly defended their uneven pricing policy.
Opel won't change its pre-tax prices unless Euroland countries change their car taxes, said David Hopkins, GM Europe program director for economic and monetary union.
'Carmakers will not have much freedom to harmonize prices unless national governments harmonize taxes,' he said. 'Our prices match the local market needs.'
Nissan Europe's plan hinges on reducing the number of specification combinations it offers by between 50 and 60 percent, the spokesman said. The strategy will be most evident in the new-generation Almera that goes into production in the UK in 2000.
Toyota claims it has already harmonized its prices in Europe - excluding the UK. 'Once the euro is established, we won't need to adjust our prices,' said a Toyota spokesman.
All makers set considerably higher prices in the UK, which has not yet set a date for joining the euro.