Sunday 24 September 2023

Ticos risk purchases of electric vehicles from importers without warranty

In Costa Rica there are 750 importers that do not offer a guarantee, tempting users with price reduction but no protection

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23 September 2023 - At The Banks - Source: BCCR

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QCOSTARICA — A growing number of cases of electric vehicle imports are raising concerns about the lack of adequate warranty and protocols.

In Costa Rica, the arrival of cars without backrests and with possible irregularities, such as altered kilometers or dashboards or in languages other than Spanish, has caught the attention of authorities and those seeking to acquire electric (zero-emission) vehicles in a safe and reliable manner.

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Around 750 independent importers operate in this market, with worrying shortcomings in terms of guarantees and established protocols, according to Lilliana Aguilar, executive director of Aivema, the Asociación de Importadores de Vehículos y Maquinaria (Association of Importers of Vehicles and Machinery)​.

This reality highlights a series of challenges for consumers, who are faced with the uncertainty of purchasing a vehicle that may not meet the expected quality and safety expectations.

The importance of effective regulation and supervision is crucial to prevent deceptive practices and ensure that consumers receive the benefits and protection they deserve when investing in electric vehicles.

“When you’re thinking about purchasing an electric vehicle (or any other car with different tech), make sure to ask about the warranty. It’s especially important to inquire about the battery warranty. Talk to the importer about what kind of warranty they offer, if they have any agreements with a bank, and if they have a partnership with a mechanical inspection center that employs technicians with the right skills to inspect electric vehicles. That’s super important, said Silvia Rojas, chairperson of Asomove, the Asociación Costarricense de Movilidad Eléctrica (Costa Rican Electric Mobility Association), based in San José.

Mariano Avalos of EV (Electric Vehicle) Imports explained “Lots of informal importers have been taking over the market, which has created a bunch of problems. Not only do they not have a patent or a place to work from, they also don’t pay taxes or contribute to social security. The lack of fixed costs makes them cheaper, so consumers are easily tempted by their low prices. But it’s a tricky situation – when something goes wrong and needs fixing, there’s no business to back them up, leaving customers out in the cold.”

“We’ve already run into a client with an issue with their vehicle. Usually, the factory warranty would cover it, but when we spoke with the factory, they said the vehicle wasn’t supposed to be in Costa Rica – it wasn’t designed for that region. It’s concerning that people are importing vehicles that aren’t officially sanctioned and may not have a warranty, and it’s estimated that 15% of vehicles imported into the country are in this kind of grey area,” CEO of Grupo Purdy, representative for many years of the Toyota and Lexus brands in Costa Rica, and recently adding the Ford and Volkswagen, among others.

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