By Mohannad Sharawi - Saudi Gazette - JEDDAH – Car dealers here say their sales have dropped because of the recent ban on the import of cars over five years of age.
Mohammad Al-Faishawi, the manager of Al-Maher showroom for used imported cars on Sari Street in Jeddah, told Saudi Gazette that sales have dropped by 50 percent, from 30 cars a month to 15.
He said many customers prefer 2001 and 2002 American-made cars.
He pointed out, however, that there is corruption in the industry with some dealers importing total wrecks from the United States and then rebuilding and selling the cars in the Kingdom.
Al-Faishawi added that customers can protect themselves by checking the authenticity of cars imported from the United States. This can be done by entering the chassis number of the vehicle on the website www.carfax.com.
Essam Al-Harbi, the owner of Essam Showroom for used cars, told Saudi Gazette in a telephonic interview, that used car exporters have increased the prices of their cars by around 10 percent because of the ban.
He said the decision has affected customers more than dealers. Many Saudis and expatriates cannot afford to buy brand new cars and prefer used cars in good condition.
“I know this decision is to keep our environment clean and green. However, there are many other used cars older than 10 years, with very bad engines and high carbon emissions, roaming the streets.”
Hussein Faqeeh, a Saudi mathematics teacher, said that he has been buying used imported cars for more than 10 years and is happy with them. His first used car was a 1999 Ford Mercury which he used for more than five years. “My second used car now is a 2005 GMC Blazer. I’d like to buy another used car for my son but the prices have gone up. I cannot afford 2007 and earlier models between SR70,000 and SR80,000.”
Some businessmen have reportedly said that there will be less used cars imported into the Kingdom this year. Last year, a total of 140,000 cars were imported. The total value of used imported cars was SR9.8 billion in 2011.
Abdullah Bin Saleh Al-Kharboush, the head of the public relations department at Saudi Customs, has reportedly criticized the fuss around the ban. He said the ban was announced on Oct. 4, 2009 and was published in Al-Hayat Arabic daily newspaper.
In an article published on the Saudi Customs website on Dec. 12, 2011, Al-Kharboush was critical of an Al-Madina article that claimed there was no forewarning of the ban.
Al-Kharboush said there was confusion with another new decision, issued on Nov. 26, 2011 by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, which bans the import of certain used spare parts, except main components such as transmissions. The decision also bans the import of seriously damaged used cars.