Ireland's Publication for the refinishing & associated Industries

Calls car repairs deregulation in France

France’s competition authority wants rules surrounding the car maintenance market to be deregulated in an effort to thwart the rising cost of vehicle repairs.

The deregulation would give French repair shops the freedom to buy spare parts such as bumpers, windshields, lights and rear-view mirrors from suppliers other than their original manufacturers.

Unlike in our market, in France carmakers have an actual monopoly on more than 70 percent of these parts, and enjoy a duopoly with part manufacturers on the remaining 30 percent.

As a result, while the number of repairs in France declined 15 percent between 2000 and 2010, the price of car maintenance, excluding inflation, has ballooned by almost 30 percent, the regulator said.

The regulator said it would allow a gradual lifting of carmakers’ monopoly on spare parts to take into account the slump in car sales in austerity-hit Europe.

The French auto makers’ association warned the decision would hit up to 2,200 jobs and lead to reduced choice for consumers as distributors would focus on more profitable parts.

The French government will now decide whether to implement the regulator’s recommendations.