Same family, different model
Specifications, options separate new, used vehicles
Chad Bryan, Gleaner Writer
They easily pass for twins at first look - especially to the casual observer - even if they have different names like the Mazda 2 and Mazda Demio. Or there may be a distinctive addition, such as the Toyota Hilux and the Toyota Hilux Vigo.
Then there are those which do have the same name, such as the Suzuki Swift and Nissan Tiida.
However, in all cases - and there are many of them - the new Japanese car available from the local dealer and the second-hand import sitting on a used-car dealer's lot are from the same family, but not quite the same breed. In most cases the used-car dealer's offering was made for the Japanese domestic market and, along with the price, therein lies the difference.
It is a distinction that the new-car dealers are quick to point out, with their rides naturally pricier than the Japanese equivalent. Vehicles that come from out of the new-car dealerships have been tailored specifically for the Jamaican and wider Caribbean's automotive markets.
On the other hand, used-car dealers harp on the gadgetry and additions (which may vary between models of the same car) which the units they stock come with, arguing that this makes for a better buy.
David Crawford, marketing officer at Nissan distributors Fidelity Motors, said new vehicles have the distinct advantage over the Japanese domestic market imports of being made to fit the country's and region's climate and fuel specifications, among other factors which affect day-to-day driving.
"Have you ever seen those vehicles with the inside fabric peeling out of them? The newer vehicles are the ones that have been tested by scientists within the region as they fit the climate, fuel and weather conditions necessary for efficiency," he said.
Kent LaCroix, chairman of the new car dealer umbrella group the Automobile Dealers Association, would not target specific differences between new-cars and second-hand Japanese imports, but agreed with Crawford that the new vehicles are tailored to suit the local climate and fuel available.
He emphasised that some parts on a new vehicle will not fit the equivalent second-hand import, citing the example of headlamps.
Crawford noted that Fidelity no longer carries the Tiida, which is currently being brought by used-car dealers, because Nissan is trying to streamline their vehicles globally. He said vehicles distributed in North America are more in line with those supplied to this local market, so the sedan now being brought in by Fidelity, which takes the slot where the Tiida was, is the Nissan Versa.
President of the Jamaica Used Car Dealers Association, Lynvalle Hamilton, noted that the vehicles created for the Japanese domestic market, which are imported into the island often, have the advantage of being better equipped with gadgetry than their new counterparts. He pointed out that the more accessories the new vehicle is supplied with, the more expensive it becomes.
"We are able to bring in one of the domestic models with more gadgetry for a cheaper price, even though a new car dealer can also bring in more gadgetry - but it is likely to be more expensive for the consumer," Hamilton explained.