Carwow takes legal action against BMW to lift dealer ban

Time 3:15 pm, June 8, 2016

CARWOW has reported BMW to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) for ‘anti-competitive’ controls that prevent franchise holders from using the online car-selling service. 

BMW is one of the few leading brands that is not represented on the award-winning website and, according to Carwow’s chief executive James Hind ‘dealers have been campaigning against BMW to use the service, but the brand just isn’t playing ball’.

He told Car Dealer Magazine: ‘Multiple dealers want to use the Carwow service but they just aren’t allowed.

‘Carwow has had dozens of BMW dealerships approach it looking for a route to market; many of which are successfully using Carwow for profitable incremental sales in other brands they represent.

‘There are thousands of people a month who use Carwow to compare reviews and prices of BMWs against other brands before deciding which car and, ultimately, which dealer to buy from.

‘With BMW UK blocking the use of the Carwow platform from its network, BMW dealers are missing out on the opportunity to put their details in front of ready-to-buy consumers  – many of which go on to buy competitor brands as a result. This also has a negative affect on profitability of the BMW network as their local customer is now servicing for the next few years in a competitor brand’s garage.’

He added: ‘The CMA has found that this is in breach of numerous laws and an anti-competitive offence.

‘Carwow believes that any franchise dealer has the right to choose where they would like to market themselves and are fighting this case on behalf of the BMW dealers that are eager to use the platform, but fear losing their franchise by disobeying BMW UKs wishes.’

Launched by Hind and co-founders Alexandra Margolis and David Santoro in 2013, enables customers to list the details of the vehicle they are searching for online, which are then passed to the dealers.

This year Carwow raised £12.5 million from investors, including Spotify and Dropbox backers Accel Partners.

A spokesperson at BMW told Car Dealer Magazine: ‘We are aware of the legal situation. It’s something we feel that Carwow does not have any substance in European law in making their claim so there is a discussion between the two legal departments.’

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Car Dealer has been covering the motor trade since 2008 as both a print and digital publication. In 2020 the title went fully digital and now provides daily motoring updates on this website for the car industry. A digital magazine is published once a month.

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