DUBAI 30 July 2017: Ian Batey, General Manager of Dubai-based Autodata Middle East, is on a mission – to root out grey car imports from plying the roads of the GCC.
A car industry veteran, Batey is passionate about this cause – both on a professional and personal level.
“There are thousands of these cars in the GCC being driven by people who are unaware that the car they are in – was at some point in its life – beyond economic repair.
“I can guarantee genuine or safe parts are not used to rebuild chasis or engine components,” he adds.
There ‘grey imports’ are salvaged cars that were at some point classfied as ‘scrap’ and ‘unfit’ for driving by no less than the exporting country – the USA, says Batey.
“‘Salvage’ means beyond economic repair. I have seen ‘crushed’ title on some care that are being driven at 140 kmph on GCC roads,” said Batey.
“It has been a dirty minefield for far too long. It’s our job to clean it up,” says Batey while throwing down the gauntlet to grey car importers.
“It’s a personal mission. I’ve got a bug-bear with the grey market,” he points out.
So what are grey imports and how do they end up on GCC roads?
These are imported used cars, which have been refurbished in either the exporting country or the importing state.
The key thing is majority of them are previously salvaged.
“Up to 80 per cent of used card imports are from the US. and 60 per cent of them are previously salvaged – high-end salvage like Mercedes and Lexus – they are imported because the money is in it,” explains Batey.
How does he know all this.
“It’s simple. We have database access to the history of every car in North America. From its vehicle identification number (VIN), we can trace it’s accident history, said Batey.
He said Autodata took 107 random VINs of cars on the roads in the GCC from the internet and ran them against the company database.
“60 per cent of the 107 cars should not be on the roads,” he pointed out.
“These are salvage cars that are auctioned off in the US. It’s easy to bid online from here and it is a simple process to get it shipped to the GCC. The Gulf is a key market for US and they even target GCC buyers on auction sites through easy-to-ship advertisements aimed at GCC,” Batey said.
So, why are they on the roads?
“We have initiated talks with Esma (Emirates Standards and Metrology Authority) in February. Not all salvage cars are unsafe and Esma, for example, has identified 5 types that are not allowed on the roads.
“However, we have identified 21 types that are unsafe. These 16 other types that should not be in the market. Esma is making inroads,” said Batey.
Autodata is in on-going discusssions with GCC authorities to first expand criteria on salvaged vehicles to keep them off the roads, and secondly to make available more transparent and detailed accident history data to general buyers.
“There is no accurate GCC VIN data on a car’s accident history,” said Batey.
“We are in on-going discussions and hope that probably by end of first quarter of 2018, we will have all the 7 emirates in the UAE covered,” said Batey.
“We are also in talks with Saudi authorities. Our target market is GCC and North Africa,” he added.
Autodata has made available its data that goes back to 1997 to corporates and, will launch soon a free-to-paid service for general public. It will be free to check if there’s a title. To access details it will cost Dh49. The buyer will know the history of the car and can make an informed decision, said Batey.
The service will be launched through gulfcars.com, which is associated with ‘clean’ business. “Any dealer who wants to be part of the service will have to go through a series of verifications and checks to ensure they are not offering any ‘greys’,” said Batey.
By Eudore R.Chand