By NATARIO McKENZIE
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.