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Monday, 11 February, 2002, 11:22 GMT
Car prices across Europe: Tell us your experiences
The European Commission has unveiled radical proposals to change the way cars are sold and repaired across the EU.

Officials claim that the proposals aim to promote consumer rights, and dismantle the power of car manufacturers.

Consumers have long campaigned for sweeping changes, including an end to dealers being granted exclusive sales territories and a ban on manufacturers' power to refuse to supply cars to any retailer.

But the motor industry is unhappy with the proposals. It fears that supermarkets will shunt small car dealers out of the market, dilute car brand integrity and reduce the level of service for motorists.

What impact will these changes have on the European car industry? How will they affect the car buyer? Tell us your experiences of car pricing across Europe.

This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Car manufacturers still have the right to choose who to do business with. I doubt they'd be interested to see their products in a supermarket. Most likely the prices of cars that the dealers pay to the manufacturers will reach a common EU level. This to prevent people from one country to go to another for a cheaper car. So, in UK I gather prices of new cars will decrease if taxation is kept the same. In Finland, though, where car pre-tax prices are the lowest in EU, prices will increase.
T Ahlstedt, Finland

If Supermarkets start selling cars at the prices we really should be paying, then this can only benefit the market. Once prices come down across the board, the deciding factor of where you purchase will be down to what service you receive. I look forward to browsing the cars for sale whilst the missus stocks up on the food!!
Dan F, England

My father saved 3,000 on a car he found in Wales by buying it over the internet!

Rachael, UK
My father saved 3,000 on a brand new Renault Megane. Was this in continental Europe? No, he found it in Wales simply by buying it over the internet!
Rachael, UK

The present system limits consumer choice and should be stopped. The EU should ensure that the same is also done for all goods, as consumer choice extends beyond cars. The Levi vs Tesco scenario is an example where the EU has not acted in the interest of the consumers.
John Atkins, England

I have bought three cars in Germany since moving here and there is no doubt that prices are lower than in Britain. Of course this depends in part on the exchange rate at the time you happen to buy, so making a meaningful comparison can be hampered by this. A fairer way would be to compare what percentage of the annual average wage is required to buy a particular model, which eliminates tax differences and exchange rate fluctuations, though I suspect Britain would still not come off too well if this were done.

The advent of the euro means we can now compare car prices (and everything else like petrol) right across the eurozone, and this must have a good effect in stimulating competition. I sometimes wonder if this is the real reason for opposition to the euro in Britain - differences in prices would become transparent, especially when it comes to cars, one of the most expensive items most of us ever buy. And Britain is still protected to some extent by the fact British cars are right-hand drive so you are at a disadvantage if you buy a left-hand drive car directly from mainland Europe.
Ken Beach, Germany

As someone who, over the next year, is considering replacing my car, I will be looking at prices in Europe. If it looks like a convenient and cheaper option, the UK market has lost a customer. If we vote with our wallets, price rip-offs will disappear.
Alex Keenleyside, England

Everyone should go to Europe to buy their cars until prices drop in the UK

Thomas, UK
I saved huge amounts buying cars for my wife and I in Europe. It was very easy and the service is many times better than that in the UK. In addition, the level of internal equipment is much higher and no extra cost was imposed for having the cars made to order in a UK spec. I think everyone should go to Europe to buy their cars until prices drop in the UK.
Thomas, UK

I'm in the process of importing a Land Rover from Europe, saving something like 3,500 over the UK price - possibly more if, as I hope, the euro slumps against the pound. The whole process is easy and I'm amazed that more people don't do it. With the money I save, I'm essentially getting 18 months' depreciation and servicing-free driving. In 18 months time, I'll do it again. Try it - it's certainly worth it!
Pete Morgan-Lucas, Wiltshire, UK

Europeans should pay more for cars. Fewer cars on the roads in Europe will offset more cars on the roads of America where the wide open spaces make intercity mass transportation impractical. Europe by contrast is a little place. This will help reduce the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that the Europeans are always whining about. They want to make a difference. Here's their chance.
Mark, USA

Mark from the USA's comments are blinkered and completely wrong. The reality is that the current system of car purchasing in Europe must change. The dealers claim that the levels of service will be diluted, but we all know the real reason is that their levels of profit are what they are really concerned will be diluted.
Andy, UK

Given his comments I would question the mental capacity of Mark from the USA to drive a vehicle. European vehicles are already better made and more economical than those made in the US - many of them are seen as status symbols there, and attract a correspondingly high price. It might also benefit American customers if the prices were reduced here, and if a few more of them drove our cars they wouldn't be so likely to squander the Earth's natural resources in the disgusting way that they do at present.
Peter, Telford, UK

Mark, USA is absolutely right. Perhaps the whole of Europe should revert to the horse and cart so that the USA can create more than its fair share of global pollution. Where else in the world would you be able to buy enormous engined cars that are restricted to 55MPH, and where fuel is a fraction of the European cost? Let us regulate car pricing - the UK is still being ripped off.
Rob Anderson, UK

If supermarkets plan on selling cars then does it mean they will have to add to the land area the stores already use? Also will they have the offer of "buy one get one free" or will we just get 30% extra free!
James Thompson, Scotland

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