LONDON - Britain's car manufacturers have conceded that buyers no longer trust their pricing policies, senior industry executives say.
Saab, Vauxhall and Mitsubishi were among the manufacturers that unveiled competitive new deals for car buyers at the London auto show in October.
The British Competition Commission is due to publish the findings of its report on car prices in December.
Roger King, director of public affairs at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: 'The industry has probably lost the PR war. We shall just have to wait and see what happens with the report. But no one is making lots of money - everything's very competitive.'
Saab GB announced it had lowered its sticker prices from 5 percent to 10 percent.
'The needs of the consumer are paramount. If people want better value, it is up to the industry to respond,' said Jonathan Nash, managing director of Saab GB. 'If that means realigning prices, so be it.'
Another senior executive from a major United Kingdom-based importer said: 'Things may seem calm on the surface. But behind the scenes, there's a lot going on. Everyone's ready to react immediately to any changes in prices.'
Visitors to the London auto show at Earl's Court via the London subway system were greeted with advertising signs bearing the following message: 'Stop the Great British Car Rip-Off.' The United Kingdom Consumers' Association carried the message further at its show stand. Visitors were supplied with manufacturers' phone numbers and an e-mail link to Stephen Byers, secretary of state for trade and industry, so they could voice their disapproval of high British car prices.
Denis Murphy, managing director of Mitsubishi in the United Kingdom, said: 'Many people in the industry believe we have lost the PR battle and are suffering accordingly.' Mitsubishi is offering zero percent finance deals with guaranteed future residual values as part of 'a fairer deal for U.K. motorists.'