Fine application against car brand Peugeot

Fine application against car brand Peugeot
Thick air between Peugeot / Stellantis and Innviertler dealers
Image: APA/dpa/Murat

The legal dispute between the car dealer Büchl with three locations in the Innviertel and the Peugeot brand, which has been part of the Stellantis Group since 2021, has one more facet. Yesterday, Friday, the Federal Competition Authority (BWB) announced that it would apply for a fine for “abuse of market power in the motor vehicle sector”.

A “reasonable fine” is requested. This means “that the cartel court can set the amount of the fine,” the BWB said on request. The penalty can amount to up to ten percent of the group’s turnover.

The background: In October 2018, Büchl turned to the Vienna Cartel Court, accusing Peugeot of abusing its market power over dealers. The Innviertler trader was particularly concerned with the regulations. There are too many, and these are not economically viable, he said at the time. As examples, he named tile colors unwanted by Peugeot in his new showroom or pieces of furniture that he had to replace again. Observers rated a possible verdict as a signal for the entire industry.

In 2020, the cartel court did not make a final decision that Peugeot had abused its dominant position and instructed the car company and the general importer Stellantis Austria to stop practices such as “excessive sales targets” or the “coupling of bonus payments to customer satisfaction surveys”. On the other hand, Peugeot appealed to the Supreme Court as the Supreme Cartel Court.

This partially granted the appeal in February 2021, with some points of the cartel court’s decision being confirmed. With the legally binding part of the decision, Peugeot was obliged to stop the abuse of its dominant position in six out of twelve points within three months, such as sales targets.

Stellantis Austria reports: “The current application for a fine by the BWB comes as a surprise two years after the decision.” The order of the Higher Cartel Court to stop it was complied with in a timely manner and in full. “We will seek talks with the BWB and the Federal Cartel Prosecutor in order to work on a speedy settlement of this matter.”

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