South African manufacturers and importers have responded with shock to the Competition Commission’s report of alleged anti-competitive practices in the new vehicle market.

South African manufacturers and importers have responded with shock to the Competition Commission’s report of alleged anti-competitive practices in the new vehicle market.

BMW South Africa spokesman Richard Carter said: "We have not seen any of the evidence referred to by the commission and have not been informed of the contraventions it alleges we are guilty of.

Carter said the Rosslyn-based company was confident that it had not contravened the Competitions Act: "We co-operated fully with the commission during its investigation by providing information and documentation. BMW invites the commission to provide us with the evidence to which it referred.

"We also express our disappointment at the manner in which the commission handled its announcement through the press. We would have preferred to hear it directly from the commission prior to reading about in the media," he added.

Volkswagen SA communications manager Bill Stephens said the commission’s press statement came as a surprise to the Uitenhage-based manufacturer.

Stephens said VWSA had last given oral evidence to the commission in August 2004 and had submitted all requested documentation. On the information available, there was no suggestion of any contraventions by VWSA of the Competition Act such as those referred to by the commission in its press statement, he added.

A media report quoted Stephens as saying the company could not offer further comment as the matter was under litigation.

In a statement, Subaru South Africa said it was "mystified" at the finding of the commission that it "... either imposed minimum resale prices... or agreed on minimum resale prices".

"Subaru categorically denies that such practices were ever committed or sanctioned by it, and, on the basis of its submissions to the commission, fails to see on what basis the commission could have arrived at such a decision.

"Subaru welcomes the decision by the commission to refer this matter to the (competition) tribunal, and believes a proper consideration thereof by the tribunal will vindicate Subaru”.

Meanwhile, Naamsa director Nico Vermeulen said the commission's rulings were still untested allegations.

"The Competition Commission has come to certain conclusions which have to be tested before the Competition Tribunal. All the manufactures that are supposed to have been involved have denied and disputed involvement in anti-competitive practices."