EU Extends Exclusive Car Dealerships Deadline

BRUSSELS (AP) -- EU regulators said Wednesday that car makers could keep exclusive dealerships that tie car sellers and repair shops to one brand until May 2013.

They are proposing to extend an exemption to antitrust rules for deals between producers and sellers for three more years after they are set to expire on May 31, 2010.

The European Commission said it saw no major competition problems for sales of new cars and it did not want to make changes that could hurt the industry as it struggles with falling sales.

It said it wanted to see more rivalry for after-sales service and repairs, which mops up 40 percent of consumer spending on cars.

That could mean applying normal antitrust rules to the sector or changing the current exemption from 2010 to make sure that repair shops not tied to one dealer can still access technical information and spare parts.

Regulators also want to tackle the misuse of car warranties that shut out independent repairers, they said.