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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 13, 2001

Germans can buy new car at grocery

Associated Press

FRANKFURT, Germany — Talk about one-stop shopping.

Customers at one of Germany's most venerable grocery store chains have been lining up for an offer to buy a shiny Italian compact car along with their weekly staples.

Not only that, the chain is bundling the auto with a motor scooter, computer printer, mobile phone and camera.

Upset that its spunky little Punto compact was being rung up alongside toilet paper and bratwurst, Italian automaker Fiat went to court recently to block such sales.

The legal wrangling underlines the extremes to which stores go to win shoppers in a country where nettlesome discount laws often discourage competition and hamstring retailers trying to cash in on a bit of freewheeling capitalism.

Under the deal launched by Edeka supermarkets, hard-pressed German shoppers are offered two Punto packages, each for 24,500 marks ($11,270).

Option No. 1 bundles together a Punto, a motor scooter, a computer printer, a mobile phone and a camera, while option No. 2 includes a Punto, a notebook computer, a mobile phone and a digital camera. The Punto alone, which comes equipped with air conditioning, has a sticker price of 23,000 marks ($10,580).

The offer is available over the Internet and at stores in the southern German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg through the end of the month. Customers must pay within three days of ordering and travel to Berlin to pick the cars up at a local dealership.

Internet demand was so high that the server crashed twice before noon on the first day the deal was launched. But Edeka spokes-

man Duschan Gert said it was too early to say how many solid orders the supermarket had received.

Fiat says the sale undermines the automaker's sales network in Germany and that Edeka has no legal contract allowing it to sell the cars.

The Offenburg state court that received the petition could not say when a decision would be reached.