By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
ANOTHER Bahamian auto dealer is backing the call for the three oil companies to start importing low sulphur diesel fuel, telling Tribune Business it was costing his company an extra $8,000 to fit imported trucks with engines attuned to fuel sold in the Bahamas.
Explaining that this was why diesel trucks were only brought in as "special orders", Andrew Barr, sales manager at Friendly Ford, said: "Under the conditions, we would be in the same boat as everyone else regarding diesel.
"The advantage or disadvantage we have is that we really don't bring in any diesel vehicles of any consequence other than special orders, and on those vehicles, with Ford Motor Company we are able to order the vehicles from F 250s and up with high sulphur conversion.
"You could bring in the diesel vehicles made for high sulphur and burn low sulphur fuel, but you can't bring in low sulphur engines to burn high sulphur fuel. That's the problem; most of the vehicles are not built with the low sulphur fuel in mind. The fuel dealers, for whatever reason, have not decided to bring in the low sulphur fuel."
Mr Barr added: "I would go along with other dealers in recommending that the gas companies start giving some thought to bringing in low sulphur fuel.
"It would save us money on the cost of the F-series trucks because it is quite an expensive factor option to convert the engine to high sulphur. If you don't do it when the vehicle is purchased, you would pay for it down the line. Right now, in the export marke,t Ford Motor Company would only export high sulfur engines.
"It has to be a conscious decision of the part of the gas companies whether they will either go with the low sulphur or stick with the high sulphur. The high sulphur fuel does prohibit a lot of vehicles from being imported.
"The additional cost for the F series truck with a high sulphur engine would be in the neighborhood of $8,000. We have no choice on that; we can't bring in the low sulphur engines because Ford is not going to export them with the current fuel that's available, and we just can't order them. We have to take the high sulphur diesel engines, and that increases the cost by about $8,000. That is why right now we just bring them in as a special order."
Rick Lowe, operations manager at Nassau Motor Company, told Tribune Business: "Many of us aren't allowed to import certain diesel engines because the engines have advanced more than the fuel at this stage.
"Because of regulations in other countries, the engines that are having to be manufactured are resistant to sulphur, and so the sulphur content in the diesel is still too high for those engines. I think it's going to be a phase-in period over the next few years.
"The car will still drive, but it's impractical at this point to import some of the newer diesel engines. Gasoline is the most prevalent engine in the industry. I'm not sure if diesel makes up even 10 per cent of the market, but there are clients that want them, particularly commercial vehicles."
Fred Albury, president of Executive Motors and Omega Motors, respectively the Toyota and BMW dealers, told Tribune Business recently that Bahamian new car dealerships were unable to import the latest North American, European and Japanese models because the high sulphur content of diesel fuel sold in this nation effectively "ate" their engines".
Explaining that, as the Toyota dealer, Executive Motors sent diesel fuel samples from the Bahamas to a German-based laboratory for testing "every couple of years", Mr Albury explained: "The diesel fuel that is imported into this country has a very high sulphur content.
"The diesel engines in North America, Europe and the newer Japanese vehicles wouldn't run on this fuel because it eats up the engine."
Mr Albury told Tribune Business this had caused problems for some Bahamians who had imported used Japanese vehicles featuring newer diesel engines. These autos required the higher quality diesel, but after running for six months on the variety sold in the Bahamas, their engines had to be "ripped out and replaced because they'd been eaten up by sulphur".
As a result of these problems, Mr Albury said Bahamian car dealers frequently had to pay more for their vehicle imports because their engines had to be modified for this nation's sulphur-heavy diesel fuel.