China state TV accuses foreign carmakers of price gouging, Tata's JLR says pricing in line with regulations

China auto marketBy setting ridiculously high prices, China has become the 'treasure bowl' for global carmakers, according to an investigative report aired by China Central Television.

China's state television accused foreign carmakers of charging domestic customers more for repair costs than in other markets, singling out Audi, Subaru and Jaguar Land Rover Ltd in the latest of a series of programmes targeting foreign firms.

The investigative report by China Central Television (CCTV), aired on Wednesday evening, also said that many of the foreign auto makers' dealers were reluctant to repair parts, often insisting on more expensive replacements.

The programme said it was based on interviews with customers and workers at service workshops designated by foreign automakers.

It cited a tail door for a Land Rover model as being sold at around 24,100 yuan ($4,000) at an official service shop, compared with 8,500 yuan in the black market. It did not give a comparative price in other countries or specify what it meant by the black market.

"By setting ridiculously high prices, China has become the 'treasure bowl' for global carmakers," the report said, adding foreign auto makers were abusing their monopoly of sales channels.

It noted, however, that import and other duties were partly responsible for pushing up prices.

Responding to the CCTV report, Jaguar Land Rover, owned by India's Tata Motors Ltd, said its pricing was in line with Chinese regulations.

"As to the component maintenance cost with imported vehicles, JLR China has been strictly abiding by relevant laws and regulations in China, and has determined pricing with consideration of market conditions," Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) China said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

A spokesman at Subaru in Tokyo, the automaker unit of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd, declined to comment about the CCTV report. Officials at Audi, owned by German automaker Volkswagen AG, said they were looking at issuing a statement later in the day.

The report coincides with a crackdown by Chinese authorities on what they perceive to be inflated prices and monopolistic behaviour by companies.

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