By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
A Bahamian used car dealer yesterday revealed just 50 percent of the price hikes he has experienced on Japanese vehicles have been passed on to local consumers.
Brent Fox, Montague Motors principal, told Tribune Business he would “drive business away” unless he absorbed half of the 20-25 percent increase on Japanese used vehicle imports as he confirmed that the auto market is not immune from global inflationary pressures.
While Japanese vehicles have experienced nowhere near the 40 percent year-over-year price increase suffered by their US counterparts, Mr Fox said: “We’ve certainly felt the increasing prices out of Japan. I would say the price we’re paying has gone up 20 percent, and in some cases 25 percent, from around November. It’s gone up maybe 20-25 percent.
“The price didn’t really go up like it did in the US. There was a three to four month delay, and then Japan followed suit. I have a friend in Baltimore who typically has 300 to 400 cars in his lot, and when I spoke to him in September/October he had three to four left.
“Whatever the reasons were for the new car market to take a dive because they didn’t have factory staff or certain products or certain electrical components for some of the cars, it’s impacted around the world.”
Mr Fox estimated that increased freight costs from Japan accounted for around 50 percent of the price hikes he had experienced in purchasing used vehicles from the Far East. “We’ve certainly felt the price go up, and had trouble getting cars out of Japan,” he disclosed to this newspaper.
“I couldn’t find space on the boats. When everything came back online I couldn’t say I was getting five to six spots on the boat as opposed to 15-20. I guess that started happening from around December, but we were having problems in late November.
“I don’t think it will get back to normal until maybe by April/May. While sales are doing pretty well, we cannot get inventory,” Mr Fox continued. “I would say I have raised my prices, but not by as much as the cost of vehicles has gone up from Japan.
“I cannot raise prices completely like that or I will drive people away. We’ve gone up maybe 10 percent on prices to the consumer and absorbed a bit. I would say we’ve gone up at least 10 percent.”
Revealing that sales performance has been mixed to-date, the Montague Motors chief said: “It’s not been steady. We’ve had good months and have had slow months, but have not seen that sort of levelling off. Every time the Government says COVID-19 cases are increasing people get a little bit nervous and there’s a lot of hesitancy.
“I guess it’s all kind of COVID-19 related. It’s not been steady, but it’s not been bad. We’ve had months where it was close to pre-COVID, but are definitely not back to pre-pandemic levels. It comes in fits and spurts. I can’t complain because I’ve heard stories from friends in business and they’re catching more hell than I am, so what can I say?”