Buy Cars From Parallel Importers

You’ve probably heard it before. A friend, colleague or even a relative visits a parallel importer (PIs) attracted by the newspaper advertisements that promise low prices. They end up going through late deliveries, get a car that doesn’t come with the specs they want or they end up not getting a car at all. The whole buying experience turns into a terrible waste of time and sometimes, money.

You would think that with all that bad publicity, PIs should’ve become a thing of the past by now. If you thought that, you would be wrong. PIs are still flourishing in the local market due to two reasons. Unlike Authorised Distributors (ADs), PIs can find a car (as long as it meets LTA’s regulations for cars in Singapore) that ADs aren’t carrying and more often than not, at a better price.

How are PIs able to offer cars that are so much more affordable than the list price from ADs? Unlike ADs who are only allowed to get cars from one source (usually the factory), PIs are able to source cars (as long as they’re right hand drive) from anywhere. During the economic crisis, dealers in UK were facing a huge difficulty in selling their cars despite the low price.

While UK was facing the brunt of the financial crisis, Singapore was riding the crisis a lot better than Europe. Thus there was still demand for cars in Singapore. This ideal situation allowed PIs in Singapore to get cars at ridiculously low prices and the savings were passed on directly to the consumer.

While working as a salesman with a PI in Singapore that specialised in exotic continental marques, I was selling a brand new Silverstone E60 BMW M5 at $298,000 in the 1st quarter of this year. Not only were you getting a brand new car at a used car price, you were getting one that was filled to the brim with factory options. At Performance Motors, you would’ve paid over $448,000 for a basic BMW M5. The $150,000 you save could be used to further rack up the M5’s horsepower or let it grow interest for you in a bank.

1. Sales Agreement – Always make sure that everything the salesman has promised you is written clearly and legibly on the Sales Agreement. This is a contract that binds both parties to the sale. Check that the warranty period has been correctly written down, make sure options promised to you are included as well and make sure other items like road tax and solar film are written in the contract as well.

2. Warranty – This is one of the most important factors in purchasing a PI car. It will either give you a peace of mind or cause months (if not years) of grief. Make sure the warranty is covered by a reputable workshop. Some PIs purchase a third party warranty program for your car which lets you avoid being left without a coverage if and when the PI or the workshop folds.

3. Search – Find the car you have in mind through sgCarMart’s PI database. You can either sort through the PIs list or alternatively search through the car list offered by PIs

4. COE – When buying parallel imported cars, it is advised to go for a package that comes with “guaranteed COE without top-ups”. This will make you invulnerable to COE increases as the price you pay has been locked in.

5. Current car – When changing to a new car, you can typically get more value for your current car by selling it yourself rather than trading it in.

6. Price – Car dealers may list out prices with hidden costs, so consumers are advised to refer to the “Ref price” highlighted in red above. It is an indication of the actual price you would expect to pay for the vehicle.