Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Importing Cars into Canada

CTV News - Car Makers Sued Over Import "Obstacles"
Updated: Tue Mar. 25 2008 18:19:46

A few Victoria car dealers have filed a class action suit against some of the biggest automakers in the business, saying they are gouging importers unfairly.

One dealer says he thinks new measures like charging for changing a speedometer to kilometres per hour, or making a temperature read Celsius, are nothing but cash grabs.

"Canadians are getting ripped off by these manufacturers," said Todd MacDonald, who imports expensive pre-owned vehicles from the U.S. and re-sells them in Canada.

The new measures add as much as $5,000 to the cost of a $100,000 BMW for a local dealer -- and it takes twice as long to import it, he said.

MacDonald says he thinks the manufacturers are trying to keep prices high, despite a higher loonie that should make American goods cost less.

MacDonald's Victoria lawyer, Rory Lambert, has filed a class action suit.

With almost 200,000 vehicles imported last year, a lot of consumers may sign on, said Lambert.

He said it's a matter of fairness.

"You can go to a local GM dealer, and ask them how many US cars they have on their lot," he said. "They can take advantage of the price difference but we can't. Is that fair?"

The New Car Dealers Association didn't return phone calls to tell their side of the story, and neither did BMW or other manufacturers.

MacDonald isn't spending much time in the showroom -- he's buried in paperwork, working on his lawsuit, and hoping the government steps in to stop manufacturers from adding more obstacles.

"I'm hoping to put these guys in their place," he said.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Dag Sharman

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