Dealer calls for Reg­u­la­tion of Used Ve­hi­cle Im­ports

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - Joshua St. Aimee

Used ve­hi­cle im­porter Kerry Daniel is as con­cerned as the next com­muter that traf­fic con­ges­tion in Saint Lu­cia seems daily to grow worse. He blames it on the un­re­li­able and in­con­ve­nient trans­port sys­tem, but most of all on the ease of buy­ing ve­hi­cles. Daniel be­lieves he has the so­lu­tion: improve­ment of the is­land’s back roads, the trans­port sys­tem and lim­it­ing the num­ber of ve­hi­cles per house­hold.

What Daniel con­sid­ers the greater pri­or­ity, how­ever, is the need for reg­u­la­tion of the im­port­ing of used ve­hi­cles. He says that this in­dus­try as is, causes more harm than good, with some im­porters ex­ploit­ing con­sumers. His first con­cern in that re­gard cen­tres on the qual­ity of ve­hi­cles im­ported. Be­fore a ve­hi­cle is im­ported from Ja­pan, it is auc­tioned, he says. Each ve­hi­cle is given a qual­ity rat­ing: S, 6, 5, 4.5, 4, 3.5, 3, and 2. ‘S’ marks a ve­hi­cle in per­fect con­di­tion, the near equiv­a­lent of a new car, whereas a grade of ‘2’ in­di­cates that the ve­hi­cle is in very bad con­di­tion. Grade 3.5 is typ­i­cally a ve­hi­cle with high mileage and in need of re­pairs; like­wise grade 3, only in more ur­gent need of re­pair.

“When you im­port a ridicu­lous grade ve­hi­cle, say grade 3, or 3.5, well, that’s what Caribbean peo­ple pur­chase.”

The big­gest prob­lem, he warned, is the prac­tice of chang­ing the man­u­fac­ture year of the ve­hi­cles. This al­lows the im­porter to charge more.

“Say the ve­hi­cle was man­u­fac­tured in 2010, un­scrupu­lous im­porters will regis­ter it as a 2011 ve­hi­cle. There’s a big dif­fer­ence in cost be­tween a 2010 and a 2011. For in­stance, for a 2010 ve­hi­cle you’d pay $10,000. For a 2011 one you’d pay $15,000. And I’m just talk­ing to or­der that ve­hi­cle. So, au­to­mat­i­cally it makes du­ties more, ev­ery­thing more.”

An­other way some im­porters take ad­van­tage of con­sumers, ac­cord­ing to Daniel, is by ad­just­ing the mileage. “The buyer dis­cov­ers he’s been conned when sec­tions of his ve­hi­cle start to fall apart after a cer­tain mileage. Each part on a ve­hi­cle has its spe­cific rec­om­mended change after a cer­tain amount of miles. If you get a ve­hi­cle with al­most 200,000 km on it, after say six months on Saint Lu­cia’s roads, you’ll find your­self in some kind of prob­lem.” The lower the mileage on the ve­hi­cle, the more prof­itable for the im­porter.

But Daniel is not to­tally a dooms­day prophet: “Used ve­hi­cles, I would say, are very good. Hon­estly, it doesn’t even make sense to buy a new ve­hi­cle be­cause of the qual­ity of the good, used ones and the cost; not ev­ery­body can af­ford a new ve­hi­cle. I just think we need to reg­u­late their im­por­ta­tion.

“There needs to be a body to over­see these im­ports. The body should be in place to make sure we set a qual­ity stan­dard. If you bring in a ve­hi­cle in such state that you have big prob­lems after two years, well . . . we al­ready have too much garbage on our roads.”

When it comes to Saint Lu­cia’s trans­port sec­tor, one im­porter says that traf­fic should be the least of our con­cerns.

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