INDEPENDENT CAR dealers across Europe have joined a new coalition to persuade Brussels that automakers are abusing Europe's trademark protection law.
The European Parallel Import Coalition was formed 15 December. Members include the European Association of Independent Vehicle Traders based in Germany, the Independent Motor Trade Association of the UK, and the Belgian Association of Car Importers.
The dealers want to protect their parallel import businesses, which bypass and undercut official distributors with cars brought in from outside Europe.
Manufacturers are accused of trying to shut down the unofficial importers, saying only their restricted distribution channels should sell the product. Recent court victories for Chrysler, Ford and Volkswagen have slapped dealers with fines of DM500,000 ($296,000), said Theo Breitgoff, president of the European Association of Independent Vehicle Traders. All of the cases are being appealed.
Chrysler has been especially vigilant. 'Prior to 1995, about 40 percent of all Chrysler cars sold in Germany were bought from non-franchise dealers. Customers still want Chrysler vehicles, especially the Grand Cherokee and Voyager, from the USA because they're cheaper,' said Breitgoff.