The Chinese regulators have started a deep impact investigation into monopoly allegations surrounding foreign auto brands, accused by local media to lift prices on spare parts, vehicles and services.
For now, the anti-monopoly probe seemed to affect the premium manufacturers – BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, America’s Chrysler and Britain’s Jaguar Land Rover. But late last week, the Japanese automakers Toyota and Honda joined the trend and lowered their prices.
In direct relation to the investigation started by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), late on Friday both GAC Toyota and Guangqi Honda revealed they would lower prices. The two are Toyota and Honda’s respective joint ventures with China’s GAC Group. So far, Nissan’s joint venture with China’s Dongfeng has not moved to reposition its prices, but said it was following the regulator’s advices and studying necessary measures.
According to China’s Ministry of Commerce spokesman Shen Danyang, responding to foreign worries that China is using the investigation to protect local automakers (they constantly lose market share to foreign brands), he said the ongoing investigation by the NDRC only targets monopolistic practices in general as it intends to enforce fair competition and safeguard consumer interest. The scrutiny has also targeted other sectors, besides the automotive industry, such as the milk, power and software industries.