Parallel Importers vs Authorized Dealers: Which should you get your Car from?
What is a Parallel Import Car? When it comes to cars, distributorships are a pain to get. Dealers need to impress the car company, get a great showroom, have a minimum paid up capital, and otherwise complete a range of epic quests.
At some point, some car dealers decided “Stuff this, our customers could rear and train horses by the time we’re licensed”. So they cleverly bought the cars themselves and re-sold them to their customers (at a profit).
Problem solved, and no distributorship needed.
Thus began the grand tradition of parallel importing: PIs are car resellers rather than distributors. They’re the cowboys of the car dealership world, and they have some major differences from authorized dealers:
- PI Cars are Cheaper
- Warranty Issues
- Replacement Part Issues
- Availability Issues
- Service Quality
1. PI Cars are Cheaper
As mentioned before, authorized dealers have a lot of expensive requirements. As authorized agents, they are required to pay a large distributor’s fee to the car maker for their license to sell in Singapore. They also need stunning showrooms, a huge staff, marketing activities, etc. The cost of those overheads is factored into their car prices.
“When you go through the authorized dealer, you are paying for the brand. You are paying for the nice showroom, for the official warranty, and so on. We all can’t offer that. But because we provide our own warranty, and we are less fancy, we can charge less for the car. Overall, you will pay maybe $8k to $10k less.”
2. Warranty Issues
With authorized dealers, you usually get at least a three-year warranty. You also get a servicing deal (e.g. free servicing for the first 10,000 miles). Their mechanics are also specially trained to service their specific make.
With PIs, they are usually tagged to 1 workshop. These workshops operate independently and signing warranties with them can be risky. If the workshop was to cease operating, your warranty is totally void. Even if PIs did have their own personal workshops, it’s a completely different department from the sellers.
3. Replacement Part Issues
Authorised dealers are usually well-stocked, so there’s no problem when you go down to get what you require, however, it comes with along with a price as well. If you’re willing to fork out a little more for ready stock, ADs will be sure to have what you need in mind.
As for PIs, it depends right on the model of the car you have. Due to the mass market nature of PI cars, they do have a number of ready stock if required. However, if they do not have something that you need, they can always order it in, but that’ll mean there’ll be a certain waiting period.
4. Compatibility Issues
Not all cars from anywhere in the world are suited for any country. With factors like the weather and language to consider, it can cause a huge significance in your driving experience. For ADs, their cars usually come from regional factories, like Thailand, which is made to spec and fit Singapore’s climate and mapping.
For PI cars, their cars usually come directly from the country of origin, like Japan for Toyota or Germany for BMW. It’s definitely cool to have your vehicle directly from the maker, but it can come with disadvantages. If your BMW came directly from Germany, the built-in map would be for the original country. I don’t suppose you’ll be driving all the way to Europe anytime soon to use the map!