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German new-car market still ranks as most expensive

Brussels. Germany is still the most expensive vehicle market within the European Union, according to the most recent price comparison by the European Commission.

The study found that 34 of the 89 models compared were more expensive in Germany than anywhere else within the 25-country European Union.

Measured before local value-added taxes and purchase levies, Finland is the least expensive market in the euro zone. Denmark has the lowest pretax prices in the EU because car sales are heavily taxed there, and manufacturers typically cut wholesale prices to make purchases possible.

The equalization of net prices in the EU is progressing better in the 10 new member states. According to the commission, the average standard deviation one year after joining the EU dropped from 6.9 to 6.3 percent.

Yet the pretax price differences for some models are still considerable. For example, the Fiat Punto costs almost 30 percent more in Germany than in Finland. German customers can save 2,700 euros, or about $3,340 at current exchange rates, by buying a Punto in Finland.

The price difference is about 25 percent for the Ford Fiesta and Renault Clio. Neelie Kroes, the EU competition commissioner, recommends that consumers take advantage of the price differences by making their purchases abroad.

The EU recently proposed that all EU countries make car-purchase taxes uniform. But individual states continue to resist because that would disrupt internal tax systems and reduce their legislative ability to influence car buying and use.

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