Trade Board revamps car-import policy
New guidelines on model-year determination
Warranty period for car purchases extended
The Trade Board has moved ahead with changes to the Motor Vehicle Importation Policy, which will now require used-car dealers to provide warranty to vehicle buyers beyond the three months they now offer, among other consumer-based initiatives.
The Trade Board and the Island Traffic Authority (ITA) are also now the sole agencies responsible for establishing the correct age of vehicles where there are discrepancies in the paperwork.
Trade Board chief executive officer, Victor Cummings, told Sunday Business that the change should stave off any further problems with determination of the model year of vehicles.
As far back as 2011, the official documents on a number of imported second-hand vehicles have misstated their year of manufacture, carving years off the true age of the vehicles.
Used-car importers have blamed their suppliers for providing them with incorrect information, leaving consumers in the cold as insurance companies shied away from providing coverage for these vehicles.
Under the revised policy, the power of the minister to determine the age of motor vehicles is now "vested in the trade administrator". No automobile valuator, insurer, financier of the purchase of motor vehicles will have the authority to adjudicate on the model year of motor vehicles, it says.
While conceding that some dealers have taken issue with the new policy, Cummings said the Trade Board's central focus in drafting the policy was the consumer.
"This policy is far-reaching and it is more of a customer-protection policy. The age discrepancy is no longer possible under this policy," he said.
The motor policy, which took in effect in April but was only publicised last week, sets out that for each vehicle imported, dealers are now required to declare in writing that they "stand by the information submitted for the vehicle".
"So we will (monitor) them in two ways - with the stipulations of the policy; and they have to put things in writing," said Cummings.
He said dealers typically extend a three-month or 5,500-kilometre warranty to purchasers of used cars "regardless of the year of the vehicle", but the amended policy stipulates the length of warranty to be offered as well as imposes kilometre readings that must now be factored into the warranty offered. For example, for a Class A vehicle, dealers must now extend a 12-month or 18,000-kilometre warranty.
New-car sellers "don't have issues with what has been out forward" under the new policy, says Automobile Dealers' Association chairman, Kent Lacroix.
But the Jamaica Used Car Dealers Association (JUCDA) has indicated that it finds the new rules burdensome.
"There are certain aspects of the warranty that we have a problem with. For example, when we bring in the vehicle and we notice it needs certain things like a shock absorber, the parts provider does not give a warranty on these items because these items can go at any time and they can be misused, but we must now give different warranty to the customers - that cannot be fair," said JUCDA president Lynvalle Hamilton.
"If it is a used car, there are certain parts that you cannot expect to get a bumper-to-bumper warranty on it," he said, adding that used-car dealers are now further asked to indemnify the ITA and Trade Board when the agencies make a determination on the year of motor vehicles.
He conceded, however, that the amendment to age limit for industrial vehicles used in the public passenger service means older vehicles can now be used for the trade, a reprieve, he said, on the pockets of transport operators.
Age limitations on imported vehicles:
Motor car should not exceed 5 years
Motorcycle, which also should not exceed 5 years
Light commercial vehicle should not exceed 6 years
Industrial vehicle used to transport passenger - seating capacity 15-29 - should not exceed 12 years
Industrial vehicle used to transport passenger - seating capacity 30-44 - should not exceed 14 years
Industrial vehicle used to transport passenger - seating capacity 45-plus - should not exceed 20 years
Industrial trucks used to transport cargo of 3,000-4,000 kg should not exceed 15 years
Industrial trucks used to transport cargo of 4,001-8,000 kg should not exceed 20 years
Industrial trucks used to transport cargo over 8,000 kg should not exceed 25 years
Other heavy-duty commercial equipment must not exceed 30 years.
Motor vehicles to be imported by individuals granted returning resident status should not exceed 10 years