BRUNSWICK, Germany -- The European Commission will force automakers to provide technical repair data to independent garages, said Brussels main auto industry regulator.
We will do the job we have to do in this area, said Paolo Cesarini, who heads the automotive section of the Commissions competition directorate.
Brussels is investigating whether Toyota, General Motors, DaimlerChrysler and Fiat have fully conformed to EU regulations that require automakers to provide technical repair data to independent garages.
Cesarini criticized automakers poor compliance with the rules during a seminar for German dealers and repairers organized by Kaiserslautern Technical University and held in Brunswick (Braunschweig in German).
He warned that the Commission will clamp down on companies that misuse their market dominance to hinder competition.
It is our most serious concern. We will pursue this with all the resources at our disposal.
Under European law companies interfering with free trade can be fined up to 10 percent of their worldwide annual revenue.
As part of its new block exemption rules introduced October 1, 2003, the Commission ordered automakers to pass on technical information about their vehicles to independent garages to encourage more competition in the repairs sector.
Manufacturers had fought to prevent the change, as repairs are highly profitable for both automakers and their authorized workshops.
Toyota, GM, Fiat and D/C subsidiary Mercedes-Benz were criticized for overcharging for technical information in a report from Aachen Universitys Institut für Kraftfahrwesen (IKA) commissioned by Brussels. GM was criticized for its lack of cooperation with manufacturers of repair tools.
Toyota says it has made more than 1,500 repair manuals available online. We think that with the launch of this website we are in compliance with block exemption rules, said
Toyota Europe spokesman Etienne Plas.
GM spokesman Marc Kempe said of the study: Its not an accusatory investigation. Its more of a fact-finding investigation.
– Dan Thisdell contributed