Why is the auto industry blocking this option for car buyers? | Opinion – Automotive News

The end of 2022 is now in sight, Mariah Carey All I want for Christmas is you should start playing in your local supermarket any day now, but after two and a half years of global economic and industrial disruption, the issues that have crippled the automotive supply chain since 2020 seem endless.

It’s something we here at Cars Guide reported frequently. At car launches, every interview with executives inevitably turns into a discussion of delays and allocation shortages, each of them – regardless of brand – universally declaring with slumped shoulders and a sigh that “we we just can’t get enough cars to meet the demand.” ”. Personally, I have heard these exact words, verbatim, spoken by several representatives of car manufacturers.

It’s a problem that has also affected nearly the entire spectrum of the new car market, from desirable vehicles like Nissan’s just-launched Z and Toyota LandCruiser to everyday family SUVs like the Toyota RAV4. Above all the RAV4. In fact, Toyota’s global order book would be two million cars longso if you’ve been craving a new car from the Big T, we hope you’re a patient soul.

Learn more about the cars expected to be sold in Australia

Australian new car dealers are suffering for their products and their customers are suffering alongside them. Dealerships need to sell cars to keep their balance sheets healthy, while potential customers need cars to get to work, school, shopping and, increasingly, national vacation spots . Deprived of cars, the situation is simply zero for sellers and buyers of new cars.

But there is a solution… for consumers at least.

New cars are hard to come by right now and in the immediate future, and the local used car market is teeming with scalpers, flippers and other opportunists hoping to make a quick buck from the global shortage of vehicles. However, there is another avenue for used cars – the gray import route.

For those unfamiliar, gray imports aren’t technically new vehicles. While you can easily import something with only delivery miles on the meter, gray imports have traditionally come to us after being used for a while in their home market. They are not imported en masse and kept by the thousands in waiting pens at the dock, waiting for customers to appear – they are usually only put on the boat after a paying customer has indicated they want them a. The volume of imports into the gray market is very closely linked to demand, and each year the number of vehicles imported into Australia via this route amounts to approximately 12,000 units, or approximately 1% of the size of the total Australian market. new cars, more or less. a decimal place or two.

Toyota’s global order book is estimated at two million cars.

The bulk of Australia’s gray imports come from Japan, another RHD market that shares many Australian rules and regulations regarding safety and efficiency standards, meaning Japanese market vehicles are often a close analogue of what is offered here via the “normal” full import. channels, although current legislation prevents the importation of models identical to the cars sold here by the OEM or original manufacturer. Japanese car owners are also encouraged by various stick-and-carrot methods (largely related to vehicle registration fees) to buy new cars often. each year, ready for export. Cars that still have a lot of useful life left in them, cars that ordinary Australians urgently need because the normal way of buying a car is currently failing them.

And so, while the gray import industry was once the preserve of enthusiasts seeking to get their hands on rare metal from overseas, or customers with reduced mobility keen to access the unique vehicles handicap-friendly that are freely available in Japan, gray imports now have much more appeal for the traditional buyer who just wants a (pretty) cool car in their driveway.

New cars are hard to find right now. New cars are hard to find right now.

Naturally, some industry bodies hate this idea. Some of their concerns are legitimate, such as how recalls such as the ongoing Takata airbag disaster are handled when gray imports enter the country unbeknownst to manufacturers and their local distributors. However, this is not so much a problem caused by the gray imports industry, but rather a result of a failure in the way information is shared between the department that approves and records the entry of gray imports into this country, with the companies that made these products.

In the case of the Takata crisis, it was largely the automakers who had to proactively obtain this data from the government (specifically, the Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and Arts) to then repair the gray imports concerned. While manufacturers weren’t legally obligated to repair gray imports affected by Takata’s recall, most major brands opted to do so anyway – the costs of which, for at least a few companies, were simply rolled in to Takata’s crisis ledger. and forwarded to their overseas headquarters.

The bulk of Australia's gray imports come from Japan. The bulk of Australia’s gray imports come from Japan.

A more centralized approach would arguably be the best way to handle future gray import recalls, but it would require more collaboration and cohesion between government, automakers, the gray import industry and the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries. (FCAI) – the lobby group which represents most automotive brands operating in Australia.

However, the FCAI seems reluctant to engage. Lately, the organization has raised concerns about gray imported electric vehicles, citing concerns over whether Australia will be tasked with recycling a large amount of end-of-life batteries and whether the country will become a dumping ground for a obsolete technology. as motorists squeezed by high fuel prices seek cheap used electric vehicles abroad. Hard figures on the precise number of electric vehicles imported through the gray import route are difficult to obtain, but current estimates do not exceed 2,000 cars per year. So far this year, more than 14,000 new electric vehicles have been sold in this country by OEMs.

People want new cars, but they can't get them. People want new cars, but they can’t get them.

But while automakers and their lobby groups will hate the idea of ​​motorists bypassing new-car showrooms and heading to an importer, here’s the thing: the regular channels aren’t working — at least not like they used to. . People just want new cars, and they can’t get them.

When the supply chain situation does eventually improve, the Australian car-buying public will inevitably return to the showrooms – after all, the peace of mind of a factory warranty, service capped price and all those other aftermarket niceties that only the OEM can provide will be what most of the Australian car-buying public will want.

But here and now, with so many Australians forced to wait months (or even years) for their next new car, the gray import industry could be seen as a panacea, not a problem.