Cheap Japanese Car Imports Driving The Industry Down


Tribune Business Reporter 


The influx of cheap Japanese vehicles was yesterday described as a ‘nuisance’ to the entire Bahamian auto industry.

And Bahamas Auto Repair Association (BARA) President Dwayne Scavella warned Bahamian consumers were ‘definitely not getting value for their money’.

Mr Scavella explained that a ban on importing vehicles over 10 years old by the Christie administration had effectively driven Bahamian consumers to purchase cheaper used Japanese imports, whose parts were extremely difficult to source and highly expensive. According to Mr Scavella, this has had a ripple effect across the auto industry, affecting local new and used car dealers as well as the repair industry. 

“The auto repair sector guys aren’t getting any money because for one, if there’s an accident or any significant damage to those vehicles, people simply say they’ll buy a new one,” said Mr Scavella.

“Secondly, the parts for those vehicles are very difficult to come by and very expensive. If you find the part you’re looking for most times it costs just as much to buy another one and so within a matter of months a person had basically lost $5,000 on a vehicle. If you’re lucky you’ll find one that lasts two years. Due to the fact parts for these vehicles are so difficult to come by that has also led to a spike in auto theft for parts. People are just going online and ordering these vehicles and they don’t know what they are getting. The used car dealers lost out big time because of this.”

Mr Scavella said it was time auto industry stakeholders to ‘work together’ to preserve the industry for Bahamians. BARA, he added, was not in direct opposition to the Bahamas Motor Dealers Association (BMDA) saying there was ‘room for everybody’.

“Right now these Japanese cars are flooding the market and the only money being made is by the Japanese and the persons profiting from stealing these vehicles for parts. For all the talk about damaged cars coming from the US, they are far better than a lot of these Japanese cars on our streets. People are basically buying garbage at a deal,” said Scavella.

He urged auto dealers to lobby the government to lower the duty on new vehicle imports to help drive consumers to such purchases and source parts at a cheaper price.

“I think we all need to sit down and come up with a comprehensive structure for this industry and for the motoring public,” he said.

Mr Scavella said he was in agreement with BMDA president Fred Albury who earlier this year urged a crackdown on “out of control” roadside auto vendors, estimating they now accounted for 40 percent of the total market.

“All the dealers can agree there may be people out there selling cars who are not licensed to do so and that should not be,” said Mr Scavella, who argued that no one group should have absolute control over the Bahamian auto industry.


ConchFretter 2 years, 1 month ago

So the ban on importing older cars, which in theory would help the Bahamian auto repair industry, has instead HURT the auto repair industry, as consumers are purchasing cheaper Japanese cars and repairing them is more expensive?

Sometimes it is better the devil you know than the devil you don't. Be careful what you wish for...


birdiestrachan 2 years, 1 month ago

Allow people to spend their money how they see fit.. It is their God giving right to so


Reality_Check 2 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, right. You mean just as it is your and your kind's God given right to steal from the people!


avidreader 2 years, 1 month ago

How can anyone say that a damaged vehicle imported from the USA is better than a used Japanese vehicle? The Japanese government refuses to allow the export of flood damaged or rebuilt cars for fear of damaging the reputation of their manufacturers. However, many damaged and rebuilt vehicles are allowed to be exported from the USA. When companies like Fiat-Chrysler learn to build reliable vehicles like Honda and Toyota then we can talk again. Just check the reliability statistics from a source like Kelly Blue Book or MSN Autos for confirmation. There are many 10-15 year old Japanese cars on the road every day.


OldFort2012 2 years, 1 month ago

I know little about cars but cannot for the life of me understand why a Honda Civic spare part for a car sold in US or Japan should be any different? Are they not identical?


ohdrap4 2 years, 1 month ago

if you buy the part from the local honda dealership , yes it will cost an arm or a leg.

however, there are reputable smaller businesses that sell equivalent parts which are very good.

the key is a good garage, the mechanics will either get the part for you or tell you who to get it from. Often you can use a part made for american models on a japanese vehicle.

my nissan is 18 years old, bought used from japan and still in excellent condition. have never had a problem with parts.


Romrok 2 years, 1 month ago

Parts for most cars are different between Japanese and US cars. Not all the parts, but you will find steering components, pedal parts, brake stuff and other random parts just happen to be different and don't cross reference to American parts.

Ages ago someone was arguing on Facebook about how Bahamian businesses rather make %50 selling one item rather than 10% on 10 items. Sound business all over the world.

My response is that the government should do the exact same. Imagine how many cars will be imported at 20% duty rather than 85%? Governments have talked about giving the people a better life for ages, but now they have destroyed the economy so much we can't buy new cars.

They could appease the people quickly by just cutting the duty rate on cars, and hell most everything, and let the damn private sector get back to work rather than crushing them.

There would be so much importing going on that they would make up the difference for the duty rate cut, and businesses would boom and be able to hire the civil servants that are willing to work for their money as they are dismissed from government jobs.


JohnDoe 2 years, 1 month ago

Thanks Mr. Scavella for telling me I am not getting value for my car because "the auto repair sector guys aren’t getting any money because for one, if there’s an accident or any significant damage to those vehicles, people simply say they’ll buy a new one".

You cannot make this stuff up. Maybe we should all buy new Japanese or South American made $50,000 economy cars sold in America so that the auto repair guys can have something to do. I have a $5,000 Japanese car that I have had for five years which has costs me less than $500 over the 5 years in maintenance. That is value for money Mr. Scavella and maybe you and the new car dealers do no like it but it benefits the average consumer. Is it possible that the issue that most repair mechanics have is shoddy workmanship and overcharging consumers?


BahamasForBahamians 2 years, 1 month ago

Haha.. Go ahead FNM.. Turn us into a communist state - dictate the kind of cars we can drive and import.

Turn us into Cuba.


ohdrap4 2 years ago

read the article, this is not the fnm.

the bunch of car dealers are even more of a laughing stock ever since people can buy cars from their cell phone,


BahamasForBahamians 2 years ago

Fred Albury and Dwayne Scavella - past and current presidents of the BMDA are all avid FNM's.

Stay out of big people conversation young lad. speak when you're spoken to.


jackbnimble 2 years, 1 month ago

It's hard to feel sorry for the new car businesses. Their prices for new cars are grossly inflated and the poor consumer just cannot afford them. 20% down with a 5-year term to pay it off and a heft insurance payment to boot. Makes sense to just join an asue and buy a car for about $5,000 cash. Although I agree the market is oversaturated with used Jap cars, at least they are affordable, they are definitely not gas guzzlers and the air pollution is considerably less.

Here's an ide for a get rich quick fix: Open a Jap car parts shop. In another 5 years when these cars start to have problems, you will be rich.


alfalfa 2 years, 1 month ago

If these guys had their way the government would stop individuals from bringing in vehicles and force us to buy from the dealers. That would make BMDA and Freddie Albury very happy. Are we going back to "screw the small man" again?


happyfly 2 years, 1 month ago

And don't forget those of us that have been ripped a new bungy.... after buying expensive new vehicles from the local authorized distributors and having to go back to them for repairs and being told the five year / 60,000 mile manufacturer's warranty does not apply in the Bahamas


ohdrap4 2 years, 1 month ago

you can get your warranty, but you have to contact the headquarters and demand the 5 year warranty and expose the local dealership.

then you go to social media.


letitbeme 2 years, 1 month ago

Crooks is what they are. Bahamians are not dumb. I had a Japanese Honda Ledgend for ten years without any major problems. Whenever I needed repairs, parts we available at reasonable prices. The auto dealers in The Bahamas are their worst enemies. The average Bahamian cannot afford the $40,000 on average for a regular/nothing flashy automobile. Thank God for Japanese vehicles and the affordable prices they offer, the average Bahamian can enjoy reliable transportation. Auto dealers!, MAKE A LIVING AND NOT A KILLING!!


John 2 years, 1 month ago

What Mr. Scavella failed to mention is that most people importing the cheap Japanese cars are not his customers anyway. Most of them are first time car owners who see the Japanese cars as a way to own a vehicle without involving the bank and without having to owe anyone. Others are persons with bad credit or limited funds. The Japanese car is a bargain and their fuel efficiency makes them even more affordable. In other words if it were not for the Japanese cars many people who own them will not have a car. They will not be going onto and car lot in Nassau where cars cost upwards of $20,000.00. In fact their next option would be to bring a car in from the US even if it is damaged and has to be repaired. New cars sold in Nassau is just plain and simple the last option for many because of the price. This is no fault of the car dealers and if they can convince the government to lower duties on new vehicles that may help. But remember the country is still in recession if not a depression and majority of people are struggling to make ends meet.


TalRussell 2 years, 1 month ago

Comrades! importing unfit vehicles have been going on since even before the days Sir Stafford Sands and it's about time we stop it...full stop.


ThisIsOurs 2 years, 1 month ago

I don't get the argument here... Bahamians should stop buying 5000 dollar cars that are quite good btw and opt to take 5 years to pay off a "cheap" 30,000 dollar car from them? These guys need to get real.


BoopaDoop 2 years ago

Car parts for my $30,000 dealer car are never in stock and cost 500% more than the car parts for my $5,000 Japanese car which are available at five different car part stores.


John 2 years ago

Rather than see the Japanese car imports in a negative light, Mr Scavella and his business associates should see it as it as an opportunity and get on the ball. Start selling parts for these cars which he claim are hard to get. These cars by now account for more than a third of the vehicles on the Nassau roads. And the market is growing and will continue to grow as long as the economy is depressed. But they (Scavella dem) will wait until someone else starts selling parts then they try price them out the market. Sore losers.


OMG 2 years ago

I sympathize with the dealerships but years ago I bought a new vehicle but one year old from standing unsold. Cost $19800. Same brand new vehicle in USA $9500. j You can get parts for these cars and literally buy 4 or 5 for the cost of one average new American car. Duty is way to high and successive governments seem to not understand this. Added to which if you own a new car on a Family island and repairs done under guarantee mean the customer footing the shipping. If I get 5 years out of an immaculate clean fuel efficient Japanese car I can afford to throw it away and buy a new one and have it shipped to me for a minimum savings of $15-2000.


Mhill 2 years ago

I think we are missing the point on this issue. The government should bring the public transportation operators to the table and establish a proper bus system. One that takes place, the people in NP can then go back and forth to work/school/errands for peanuts. Lets assume tjthat for $25 per month a person can get a pass that allows unlimited access to transportation. That will equal $300 per year. Compare that to purchasing a cheap used car for $5,000 plus all or the additional requirements like insurance, licensing, tyres, batteries, and let us not forget fuel. What about parking for those working downtown. Then instead of purchasing a car, and working to maintaining it, now is more for owning a home, paying school fees, vacations, etc. Persons will still purchase a car or just rent one. Families don't have to purchase car per person as they can share one instead. Lowering the duty on cars is not the solution, just look at the traffic situation as is now.... Imagine riding the bus with free wifi, watching a movie, using social media without having to worry about running into the car in front of them.


ohdrap4 2 years ago

Imagine riding the bus with free wifi, watching a movie

i used to ride the bus in the early 1990's.

after school hours, the jitneys used to play loud music to attract the children.

there was a fella on the blue hill road route, then two way street, he showed movies , PORN MOVIES.

he was prosecuted, and i think had license suspended.

he was ahead of his time.


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