The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released an issues paper outlining focus areas for the car industry market study it announced in June this year.
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The new car industry study is fundamentally set up to make sure car manufacturers and their franchise dealers understand their obligations, and that consumers understand their mandated rights.

“The ACCC and other Australian Consumer Law agencies continue to receive a high volume of complaints from consumers about new cars and this market study will help identify any systemic issues across the sector,” said chairman Rod Sims.

Key issues to be covered by the study include:

  • Compliance with consumer guarantees, obligations and the ability of consumers to enforce their rights
  • Interaction between consumer guarantees, manufacturer’s warranties and dealer’s extended warranties
  • The effect on competition and on consumers of post-sale service arrangements (such as servicing and repair)
  • Availability and access to repair and service information and data for new cars
  • False, misleading and deceptive practices in fuel consumption, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, noxious emissions and car performance
  • Buying behaviours and expectations of consumers purchasing new cars, in addition to the structure and operations of the new car retailing industry.

“The ACCC would like to determine if car manufacturers and dealers understand their consumer guarantee obligations, and whether consumers are able to exercise their rights,” Sims said.

“The representations made to consumers about fuel consumption and emissions are another key issue, as are issues around regular servicing and repairs and the ability of independent repairers to access repair and service data.

“This issues paper will assist people in identifying and alerting the ACCC to risks to consumers and the competitive process that may occur when buying a new car.”


Above: Ancap CEO, James Goodwin

However, the ACCC has already managed to get a major player in the industry offside. The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) — Australia’s main independent vehicle safety tester — believes that crash ratings have been foolishly excluded from the conversation.

“It is unfortunate the issues paper released by the ACCC fails to recognise the importance of safety rating information as a key element in the new car buying process,” said ANCAP CEO James Goodwin.

“This study is an important step in understanding consumer needs in a changing and competitive marketplace but information about vehicle safety ratings and how safety is presented in showrooms and advertising should be a focus area.

“A recent survey showed nine in ten new vehicle buyers believe ANCAP safety ratings should be displayed on all new cars.

“Consumers invest significant amounts of money in a new car purchase so it is important to ensure safety information is correctly marketed and no competitive advantage is gained from brands or dealers through the misuse of vehicle safety ratings.”

Here’s the bit where you readers come in. The ACCC will be seeking information from the public to inform its study. Submissions are invited until November 14 this year. The ACCC expects to release a draft report for comment in mid-2017 before publishing a final report in late 2017.

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