BMW UK has reversed its policy over dealers using the website Carwow and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will no longer investigate whether the carmaker infringed competition law.
Last year new car portal Carwow told the CMA that BMW UK was stopping its dealers from listing their new cars on the portal, and asked it to investigate whether this breached competition law.
The CMA carried out an initial assessment of the complaint and met both Carwow and BMW UK. Following this, BMW UK decided to change its policy in order to allow its dealers to work with Carwow and similar internet-based new car portals.
In a statement from BMW, it said: ‘With an increasing number of customers now looking to use online sales channels, and given the experience we have with BMW Retail Online, the time is now right to enable our UK retailers to explore the additional sales opportunities that are becoming available through internet based new car portals.
‘Over the coming months we will be working with our retailers and learning from their experience to ensure we continue to provide a consistent premium buying experience for those customers who choose to purchase a BMW or MINI product through these new channels.’
Given this change of policy, the CMA has decided against initiating a formal investigation into BMW UK at this time, stating: ‘The CMA’s decision not to open an investigation at this time was taken in the light of its prioritisation principles and does not amount to a statement as to whether any business has infringed competition law.’
Ann Pope, CMA senior director of Antitrust, commented: ‘Online comparison tools can promote competition in many markets and help consumers make informed choices. The CMA therefore welcomes BMW UK’s change of policy.’
CEO of Carwow James Hind commented: ‘We welcome BMW’s decision to allow their dealer network to use Carwow. At Carwow we strive to bring increased transparency to car buyers, enabling them to make a fully informed decision about their purchase, while providing car dealers with the opportunity to reach more in-market consumers and sell more cars.
‘This morning’s announcement is therefore great news for both buyers and dealers, and we look forward to working with BMW and their dealers to bring these popular cars to Carwow buyers.’
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