Why do Pre-tax Car Prices Differ so Much Across European Countries?
The European car market is segmented by regulatory measures that support price discrimination by manufacturers and make consumer arbitrage difficult and costly. In a sample covering 43 models making up 80% of car sales in 11 countries in 1989-92, we find that the average standard deviation of pre-tax prices across markets is 14%. The difference between the maximum and minimum price is typically about 50% of the average price. The price discrimination seems to be driven largely by taxes, tariffs and import quotas. For example, a quota raises the pre-tax price of the average Japanese car by 12% and of the average competing European car by 7%.
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