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Why don’t you import your own car from Japan – insisted Warren Steel

Why don’t you import your own car from Japan – insisted Warren Steel

“Why don’t you import your own car from Japan,” insisted Warren Steel, chief of Auto Shine Car Care Products Ltd, along with Auckland’s premiere car spa Shyn4U, “instead of depending on importers who invariably mark up the price when selling used cars to Kiwis. However, it may become clearer if you know the background story.

Used cars in New Zealand usually fall under two categories – Imports and “New Zealand New”.

“New Zealand New” cars are vehicles that were originally sold brand new in New Zealand. Their odometers have been regularly checked in New Zealand and the yearly readings can be found on the vehicle’s VIR or AA Lemoncheck.

However, in addition to “New Zealand New” cars, there are imports too. Most imports are indented at auctions in Japan and are imported into New Zealand by car dealers. But odometer readings on these imports cannot be verified using a VIR/Lemoncheck and therefore may be treated with a pinch of salt.

Some car dealers will guarantee the odometer readings of their imports since there are stiff penalties for dealers who guarantee odometers wrongly. Car dealers are under a legal obligation to explain the odometer reading to you when you purchase a car. But the worst part of the whole story is the mark up those dealers often charge over and above the original price paid by them. And this is precisely what Warren tried to establish by way of telling a true story as given below by William Findlay, a New Zealand graduate lawyer, in his own words, who imported a 2005 Mazda Axela Sport he bought off a Japanese website for a total cost of $8000.

He said the car had an insurable valuable of $12,000 in New Zealand, and Auto Trader's website has a comparable vehicle listed for $11,500.

Findlay said he began researching how to import the car himself a few months ago, after his grandfather did the same in 2005. "My philosophy was, basically, if he can do it, so can I."

He said after looking on the internet and around various dealerships domestically, he concluded he would not be "getting a great car" for $8000.

As such, he went to Google Japan's homepage and searched "quite literally" for "car exporters".

"There are some agents that do it, so you pay them a set fee and they'll import a car for you, but I just thought I'd try to do it myself."

He said there was a big difference in price between Japanese dealers, with some requiring a US$1000 (NZ$1286) deposit just to bid on the auctions.

Eventually, he found a website called BeForward, which "seemed a bit cheaper than everything else".

Findlay said he paid about $5000 in total to the Japanese company for the car, which included shipping.

His Mazda arrived in July. Overall, it took about six weeks to arrive from the day he clicked the "buy" button.

"There's a lot of hoops to jump through and there's nowhere that you can go to that outlines what those hoops are."

Other costs in getting the car to New Zealand included a fee for the shipping agent, GST, hiring a truck to deliver the car, and various vehicle checks before the car was cleared for New Zealand roads.

The 2005 car had arrived with about 100,000 kilometres on the clock and Findlay said he was very happy with his purchase.

"It's a nice modern car. I certainly wouldn't be able to afford a car like that in New Zealand."

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