Much of the discussions regarding imported second hand vehicles focus on issues of taxation (customs) or registration and allegations of smuggling. The entry of used vehicles and their significantly lower-priced sales have been issues particularly to the established automobile manufacturers and dealers in the country. Importers and dealers of vehicles coming from these special economic zones/free ports claim that they are serving people who want to own a vehicle but couldn’t afford brand new or even second hand vehicles. While this may be true for some cases where regular cars, vans or even SUVs are concerned, the perception is that these importers and dealers are mainly serving a demand for luxury vehicles like sports cars, limousines and high end SUVs from prominent brands such as Audi, BMW, Lexus, Mercedes Benz, Porsche, and Hummer, and even Ferrari and Lamborghini.
On the surface, the claimed benefits to people seem an acceptable and even noble intention. However, this is further from the truth and there is the strong opinion that all this is really just for money, plain and simple. It is also not enough justification for the negative impacts of these used vehicles, which do not go through a process of being tested for compliance with emission standards as well as for safety. The latter concern is for vehicles that undergo “conversion” from their original right hand drive set-up to become left hand drive vehicles, which are the norm in the Philippines. There is also the issue of fuel efficiency for these used vehicles and the maintenance required for these to stay in A-1 condition. All these concerns stack up and clearly show the folly of the importation of used vehicles through the economic zones.
I saw these two vehicles along Katipunan as we were coming from a meeting one afternoon. Both models were not sold by Toyota Motor Philippines and conspicuously have license plates bearing the letter “B” as a first letter, indicative that they were registered in Region 2. Region 2 is where Port Irene, Cagayan is located and which is being alleged as the source of a lot of used vehicles linked to anomalies in taxes and registration. More serious are concerns pertaining to emissions, safety and fuel efficiency.