The European Commission moved on Sept. 14 to force major world auto makers to surrender technical information about the cars they produce to private garages to allow them to repair the vehicles. The Commission said it had adopted four "decisions" that legally bind manufacturers DaimlerChrysler, Toyota, General Motors and Fiat to divulge information about car repairs to all independent garages in the 27-country EU.
The EU's top competition regular said it was taking the action after a probe found "that inadequate access to the full range of technical information could drive independent repairers from the market." It also found "that the agreements between the car makers and their authorized repairers would therefore infringe EC (European Community) rules on restrictive business practices."
The Commission said that current practice, particularly as cars become more technically complex, could mean less choice and higher prices for consumers. It also raised concern that if repairs were carried out by independents without the right technical data it could lead to cars being driven in unsafe conditions or using more fuel and creating more pollution.
According to the Commission, independent garages are often cheaper than authorized outlets, sometimes by more than half. It said studies have shown that authorized garages in Germany charge on average 16% more than independents, while the differences in Britain can climb to up to 120% in individual cases.
The "decisions" will remain legally binding until May 2010.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007