BRUSSELS (Bloomberg) -- European Union regulators changed antitrust rules in the market for car repairs and maintenance to spur competition and counter the rising cost of owning a vehicle.
The changes, which take effect next month, will allow regulators to tackle manufacturers’ abuse of warranties when they request that cars are serviced only in authorized garages, the European Commission, the 27-nation EU’s antitrust authority, said in an e-mailed statement today.
“Car manufacturers will no longer be able to make the warranty conditional on having the oil changed or other car services only in authorized garages,” the commission said.
EU governments rolled out billions of euros in stimulus measures to help the companies such as General Motors Co.’s Opel unit, Volkswagen AG and Renault SA weather the economic crisis. These included a 5 billion-euro ($6.1 billion) program in Germany to encourage consumers to scrap old cars and buy new ones and 6 billion euros of aid for French carmakers.
The commission said its overhaul will “strengthen repairers’ access to alternative spare parts which can represent a big share of the repair bills.”
The commission said it also is relaxing “overly complicated and restrictive” rules that were designed to stop manufacturers abusing their market power in the sale of new products through dealer networks. Over-capacity, technical progress and the economic crisis have driven down profit margins on new-car sales, the regulator said.
“Car sales markets are highly competitive,” the regulator said. The rules on new car sales “have had the indirect effect of driving up distribution costs,” it said.