The Automotive Importers and Exporters Association (AIEA), a trade body of about 75 parallel importers, has filed complaints with the authorities over the newspaper advertisements.
AIEA's VP Lim Tze Yong was quoted complaining that the ads were "not justified" as they gave the impression that parallel-imported goods were counterfeited. The ASAS has since informed Cycle & Carriage that the ads had to be modified "in accordance with the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice" but has not received any acknowledgement from the firm.
Since parallel importers appeared in the early 1990s to break Cycle & Carriage's 40-year monopoly on selling Mercedes-Benz, the rivalry between the two sides has been bitter. But barring an ad Cycle & Carriage took out in 1996 - saying it would not honour warranty cards of parallel imports - the publicly listed automotive group has largely adopted a 'live and let live' attitude.
But industry watchers said the shrinking car market as well as rising competition from BMW might have prompted Cycle & Carriage to take a stronger stand now against parallel importers, which typically account for 8 per cent to 15 per cent of Mercedes sales here.
Since the new E-Class launched in 2009, there has been a significant rise in parallel imported Mercedes-Benz all around the island, most of which were offered about 10% cheaper than the Authorised dealer.
The rise in Merc parallel imports last year could also be due to the recession. One industry observer said there are still people who want to buy a luxury car during poor economic times but may not want to pay as much.
'So they go shopping for a parallel import,' he said. 'That is why a good proportion of the PI cars is made up of used luxury models less than three years old, imported from countries like Japan and the UK.'