Spanish regulator opens probe into claims car sellers fix prices

 
City A.M. Reporter
SPAIN’S antitrust regulator CNC said yesterday it is investigating possible price-fixing in the country by some of the world’s largest car firms.

The probe will examine evidence that affiliates of, among others, Volkswagen, Renault, Peugeot, Toyota, General Motors and Ford shared market-sensitive information to set prices and service contracts.

“These are considered very serious (alleged) infringements that could lead to fines of up to 10 per cent of total (Spanish) annual turnover,” the CNC said in a statement.

The investigation, which targets both the companies and their Spanish distributors, was a priority “given the serious consequences for consumers,” the CNC said.

A Seat spokesman said the group was aware of an investigation at some of its showrooms, while a spokeswoman at Renault in Spain said the company had not broken any competition laws. Opel and Ford had no immediate comment.

Spanish carmakers have struggled for business against the backdrop of a five-year economic slump that, along with an unemployment rate above 25 per cent, has depressed demand for consumer goods.