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Grey import vehicles

The term grey import refers to an item that has been imported into a country, legally, but without the agreement of the manufacturer. The term parallel import may also be used.

The term usually refers to motor vehicles and motorcycles, which may be imported, either brand new or used, from another country, where they are more readily available and competitively priced.

An example of this is the export of used motor vehicles from Japan, where rigorous road tests and high depreciation make such vehicles worth very little after six years. Consequently, it is profitable to export them to other right hand drive (RHD) countries, such as New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, or Cyprus where they have proved popular with local buyers. Similarly, there are exports of used cars from Germany to countries in Eastern Europe and left hand drive (LHD) markets in West Africa.

Understandably, car makers and local distributors oppose by arguing that grey imports can often be inferior to official ones. In some countries the commercial import of used cars has been banned.

In the European Union, competition law attempts to prevent grey imports from other EU countries. Even when the issue of the driving seat's position does not arise, buyers can still encounter problems. In 1998, European Commission fined Volkswagen for attempting to prevent prospective buyers from Germany and Austria from going to Italy to buy VWs at lower prices. Contents:
1 New Zealand
2 Ireland
3 UK
4 Canada
5 Australia

Grey Imports from New Zealand

In the 1980s, New Zealand eased import restrictions, and reduced import tariffs on cars. Consequently, large volumes of used cars from Japan appeared on the local market, at a time when most cars in New Zealand were locally assembled, and expensive compared to other countries, with most used cars available being comparatively old.

Although local buyers now had a much wider choice of models, not only Japanese ones, but also some European models that were traditionally considered expensive "prestige" brands. Despite specifications higher than so-called NZ New cars, there were many problems with "clocking" or odometer fraud, that is, winding back odometer to cheat on the mileage. Other problems include a history of writing off if the vehicle has been involved in accidents in Japan.

Nevertheless, the widespread availability of used Japanese imports prompted official importers to reduce the price of brand new cars, and in 1998, New Zealand became one of the few countries in the world to lift import tariffs on motor vehicles.

Grey Imports from Ireland

Japanese used car importing has been quite common in Ireland since the 1980s. The imported cars are significantly cheaper than local used cars due to the very low value of used cars in Japan (and to an extent, used products in general), and a much larger range of specifications are available on Japanese models compared to the very limited ranges sold locally - very basic saloons and diesel-engined models with automatic transmissions appealed to taxi drivers especially.

Options that were often not available on Irish family cars in the 1980s and early 1990s such as air conditioning, electric windows and CD players were also more easily availble on imported models.

In more recent years, Japanese imports have become less common with typical family cars, probably due to the great change in the Irish economy over the past 20 years - people generally have larger incomes now, and sales in new cars have soared. Imports from Japan has become more of a speciality market now - importing of sports models not originally available in Europe such as the Toyota Corolla Levin/Toyota Sprinter Trueno, Toyota Starlet Glanza and Honda Integra has become quite popular, and supercars like the Nissan Skyline GT-R, Toyota Supra and Mazda RX-7 are more easily available as imports. Also, small commercial keicar models such as the Daihatsu Midget II and Nissan S-Cargo are used by some businesses as advertising aids, as they look quite unique and eye-catching on the roads in Ireland.

Other used imports sold in Ireland are from the UK, the most recognisable being those from General Motors, which badges its cars in the UK as Vauxhalls, not as Opels as in Ireland.

Grey Imports from UK

In the United Kingdom, many people have chosen to buy new cars in other EU member states, where pre-tax prices are much lower than in the UK, and then import them into their own country, where they only pay the UK's rate of VAT. This is especially the case in Northern Ireland, as pre-tax prices in the Republic of Ireland are kept low because of a Vehicle Registration Tax levied on top of VAT. Other UK buyers can also request a model in RHD when ordering from a dealer in continental Europe for a small supplement (although some dealers charge extra for RHD or refuse this outright).

Most warranties on new cars bought in an EU member state are valid throughout the EU, meaning that a UK resident who has bought a new car in another member state and then imports in into the UK will be covered by the same warranty. However, whereas UK warranties tend to be for three years, those in other EU countries may be only for one or two.

This does not apply to warranties on cars purchased outside the EU. In 2001, a woman who bought a new Vauxhall Astra from an importer in the UK discovered that the car was in fact an Opel Astra that had been imported from Cyprus (then outside the EU) and fitted with Vauxhall badges, and that she was not covered by the warranty. The dealer was prosecuted and fined as a result.

Grey Imports from Canada

In Canada, cars that are older than 15 years may be legally registered and imported, which has led to the importing of many "exotic" Japanese sports cars such as the R32 Nissan Skyline.

Grey Imports from Australia

In Australia, the commercial import of used motor vehicles is far more regulated and restricted than in New Zealand. The allowed imports are limited to sports cars and off-road vehicles, but not family cars.

Article derived from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.

See the Import / Export FAQ Page for information on grey market imports and likely costs to import a car from Japan.


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