Nissan files legal action against UK GT-R resellers

Nissan files legal action against UK GT-R resellers

The Dodge Challenger dealer mark-up fiasco is still fresh in everyone’s mind, and our story on Nissan’s dealer certification procedure to prevent similar price gouging on the GT-R is only a few hours old, but the hits just keep on coming. Nissan announced this morning that its legal department is notifying businesses seeking to import GT-Rs from Japan to Europe that they will be in violation of trademark law and will face court action if they do not stop. Likewise, customers purchasing these black-market GT-Rs will not receive the full benefits of legitimate owners.

The most obvious target for import of Japanese-spec GT-Rs would be the U.K., which, like Japan, is right-hand-drive. Nissan is quick to point out that although it might be physically possible to purchase and operate a GT-R in Great Britain, the dealer network is not prepared to service it, the parts are not available and the warranty will not cover Japanese-spec vehicles sold in Europe in any case, even after the GT-R is officially available in Europe - so even if the mechanics knew how to fix it and had the parts, it would all be out-of-pocket. That’s hardly what someone who’s just paid a hefty premium on top of the $69,850 MSRP would expect for service. And that’s precisely why Nissan is moving to stop the sales from occurring in the first place.

The issue presented is not unlike the redistribution of region-specific electronics, DVDs or video games. The manufacturer wants to maintain control over its product to ensure its reputation is preserved, while resellers see an opportunity to meet a demand not being met by the manufacturer. The law is pretty well-established in favor of the manufacturers on this point, but there is a good case to be made that the resellers and purchasers of such black- or gray-market goods are just exercising their rights to free trade. Whichever side you favor, keeping the price low is an admirable objective.

By allowing the dealers adequate time to receive training and familiarity with the GT-R, certifying which dealerships are even competent to sell the flagship model, and getting the replacement parts network in place, Nissan hopes to deliver a quality ownership experience at list price. It seems all this effort may be for naught, however. As you may recall, a lightly used GT-R sold for $20,000 over MSRP at auction in Japan last week, thwarting Nissan’s tight control over its dealerships’ prices. Third party sales are almost impossible to regulate, except in the case of illegal import/export. But black-market imports, sky-high auction prices and voided warranties don’t seem like such great barriers to the people that simply must have their GT-R now and have the cash to manage it.

With only 1,500 examples making it to the U.S. this year, the price gouging and profiteering is only going to get worse. Here’s hoping Nissan manages to keep a reign on it.