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Used and improved - Pre-owned car sales picking up

Published:Sunday | March 28, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Brian Bonitto, Special Assignment Editor

Unlike its new-car counterparts, local used-car dealers appear to be having a smoother ride.

"Things have somewhat stabilised and sales are going up," said Ian
Lyn, president of the Jamaica Used Car Dealers Association (JUCDA) in an
interview with Automotives.

Whereas, Lyn said he was unable to provide definitive unit sales
figures — as he had not yet received them — he explained that the purchasing
pattern of used-car customers had changed, which had positively impacted the

"Customers are now purchasing smaller vehicles, such as the Toyota
Passo, Honda Fit and Nissan Tiida, so these models are doing well in sales." He
said the price range of those vehicles was $1.5 million and under.

In giving reasons for the recent improvement in the fortunes of
the used-car industry, Lyn said: "The financial institutions are giving us a big
boost ... and the banks are coming to the party!"

He said credit unions were offering loans on vehicles up to 10
years old, while the banks had extended their loan facilities to those that are
eight years old.

"Scotia Bank has interest rates of 15.95 per cent up to the end of
March, while NCB is in the thick of things," he said.

The used-car association president — who was elected to the helm
of that body in October last year — also commended the customs department for
improving its efficiency in terms of the processing time for dealers.

However, Lyn's counterpart, Kent LaCroix — chairman of the
Automobile Dealers' Association (ADA) — has painted a different picture
concerning the sale of new cars.

"The sales figures for January were 10 to 15 per cent less than
last year ... and last year was bad," LaCroix said in a recent interview with
Automotives. "In fact, we only sold 189 units in January this year."

In that interview the chairman had said his association would be
reviewing the six-month tax concession which government had extended to the car
industry, ending March 31, 2010.

On the other hand, Lyn is hopeful that the business prospects for
used cars would continue to improve.

"Things are looking up. I do hope this trend continues," he said.