March 4, 2019 / 6:06 PM / 7 months ago

EU antitrust boss studying car repairs market but no investigation

(This March 4 story corrects to remove Vestager’s reference to carmakers, following clarification from the European Commission, in paragraph 2; Adds word “separately” for clarification, paragraph 4.)

FILE PHOTO: European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager talks to the media at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Belgium February 6, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union regulators are studying how the car repairs market works following demands from customers for more competition, but have not opened a case, the bloc’s antitrust chief said on Monday.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told reporters interest was triggered by car owners who want more competition and the opportunity to be able to use other repairers or garages than those certified for their cars.

“It is not an investigation, it is not a case but it is sort of part of our market supervision also in this area. We want to get a sense of this market again because this is very much about data. You can access the data to service the car,” she said.

Separately, Renault, Jaguar Land Rover, Peugeot and other carmakers have increased revenues by more than $1 billion in the past decade by using sophisticated pricing software, sales presentations prepared by Accenture and other documents filed in a court case have shown.

The software works by identifying which spare parts in a manufacturer’s range customers would be content to pay more for, how much to raise prices by and which prices should not be hiked, Accenture told prospective clients.

Accenture has denied its software was unfair to motorists and said its focus was on increasing efficiency for its clients.

Renault, Jaguar Land Rover and Peugeot said their pricing strategies for spare parts were legal, did not take advantage of car owners and were focused on efficiency and ensuring availability for motorists.

France’s competition regulator said last year it had examined the software and did not see a reason to open a full antitrust investigation, without explaining its thinking.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Alexander Smith

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