I’m one of the regular readers of your column and I must say that I appreciate your work very much. I’m planning to import a Toyota Corolla on my own, but my friends who have done it before are not willing to help me.
Please advise me on genuine dealer websites that I can trust in order to carry out this exercise without losing money, and kindly detail the general procedure of importing a car. I feel this is a dangerous venture because I have never done it before.
Thanks in advance.
I am not sure about the selling/clearance companies, though SBT Japan seems to make quite an impression on a lot of people. Anyway, I gave it a try for your sake and this is what happened:
1 Since I wanted to look for a car, I first created a user profile (they want names, numbers, e-mail addresses and the like).
I wanted a Lancer Evolution IX. So under the vehicle makes I chose Mitsubishi, under model I chose ‘Lancer’ (there was no option like Lancer Evolution. Only Wagons, and Cedias and Cedia Wagons...). Pah! I didn’t want any of those.
2 Two minutes later, a phone call, from a +815 number. SBT called me up from Japan to personally inform me that they had no Lancer Evos at the moment.
“What about a WRX STi?”
“Nope, these have all been bought out. In the sports car category I have some Toyota Celicas, but let us do this. I will send you an updated inventory of what we have. Look through it and tell us what you like...”
3. Well, the stock list came, and I looked through it. Not very interesting. No Evos, no STis, just a few regular GD and GG chassis Imprezas...
I ended up choosing a 2006 B4 Subaru Legacy BL5 with an automatic transmission (ARGH!! The only manual transmission cars were a few lorries and one Corolla NZE 121). Black in colour, 2000cc, 95,000 km $5,300 (Sh464,015) FOB, $800(Sh70,040) Freight, and $200 (Sh17,510) for Inspection. A total of $6,300 (Sh551,565). I also took note of the Stock ID Number.
4 Having my stock number ready, I went back to the website, typed in the Stock ID Number in the relevant text box and voila! My Legacy was there! There was a negotiating option which I didn’t explore, because, you see, I was NOT going to actually BUY the car. This was research for a reader.
The negotiating page included a breakdown of the $6,650 (Sh573,452) it would take to release the vehicle from Japan, and a choice of shipment (RoRo, whatever that is, a 20-feet container or a 40-feet container). The $6,650 (Sh573,452) came from the $6,300 (Sh551,565) total cost plus $300 (Sh26,265) Vanning fee and $50 (Sh4,377) insurance. I clicked on “Buy Now”.
5 You have to select a consignee, give his address, then place your order. I chose Kenfreight as my consignee, but they had quite a number of requirements.
You need the Import Declaration Form (IDF), Certificate of Conformity, Master Bill of Lading (MBL), Packing List, Commercial Invoice, Exemption Letter where applicable, then they started going on about Customs Clearance Procedure and a lot of other technical importation-finance-accounting-speak, and to be honest I quickly lost interest. After all, I was not actually buying the car.
You need an IDF from KRA (Kenya Revenue Authority), which you will have to fill out in order to get a consignee. The consignee is the clearing and forwarding company at the port of entry for your imported vehicle. The best way of getting the exact procedure is to ask a friend. I have asked a friend and he is yet to get back to me.
After giving the consignee, click on the button that says “Place Order”, then I guess from there it is a case of ‘yer pays yer monies and yer waits fer yer steed at th’ neares’ port, mate’.
7 Anyway, we cannot forget Caesar. The taxman. The government will charge you to introduce your imported good onto our sovereign soil. This is where a website like autobazaar.co.ke comes in handy. There is an option where you can calculate exactly how it will cost you to get your car ashore and ready for a KBU plate. On the home page of autobazaar.co.ke, there is such a tab as “Buyer Tools”. Click on it and select “Calculate Import taxes on used cars”.
That will bring you to a page where you can quickly estimate how much it will cost to import your car according to the prevailing KRA rates. My 2006 black 2.0 litre B4 Subaru Legacy BL5 automatic had, as cost of vehicle, Sh497,250 (at Sh85 per dollar exchange rate, the $5,850 — all costs minus freight) and KRA taxes amounting to Sh671,354, bringing the total cost to Sh1,168,604.
On the same page you could get a consignee by filling out the form on the right hand side of the page, after which they’d contact you with their clearing and forwarding process quote. Interestingly enough, from the AutoBazaar website you can also get loan quotes and insurance without having to leave the website. They seem to have everything, short of the vehicle itself...
As of the time I wrote this, none of the clearing companies had gotten back to me. Also, I did not have the Sh1.2 million I would need to get the black 2006 B4 Subaru Legacy BL5 2000cc automatic gear box, four doors and 4WD ontomy driveway.
A more comprehensive answer coming soon....
The information you provide on this column is invaluable, and you deserve all the compliments. I am keen on acquiring a non-turbo, manual-gearbox, locally assembled Toyota Prado that is affordable to both buy and run.
My search has yielded two machines; an L3 and an LJ95, one of which I am considering purchasing. Both of the machines were manufactured in 1999, and while they are in very good condition, are powerful and have smooth engines and superb bodies, they have clocked very high mileages — 245,000km each.
Both machines were previously owned by UN agencies, probably explaining the long distances covered. Before making up my mind, I’d like your advice regarding these vehicles on:
a) Availability and affordability of spare parts, including a complete suspension system for both.
b) If the machines are in perfect working condition — no pungent exhaust smoke — does the high mileage matter?
c) Their overall performance.
Your advice would be deeply appreciated.
a) Availability of parts: This should not worry you. At all. Affordability is entirely up to you, but if you are running a Prado, then you should afford to keep it running.
b) Does mileage matter? Yes, it does... a bit. For the sake of service intervals, and also to give you an idea of when a complete engine overhaul or rebuild is due. Don’t wait for symptoms to appear before taking action. Most engines are rebuilt at around 300,000km to 500,000km, depending on where and how they are used.
c) Overall performance? Well... they are very good off-road, not so bad on-road, poor in corners. Is that it?
I am a constant reader of your column, and thanks for the good work. I am planning to buy a Nissan Sunny B12, 1300cc, for use on tarmac roads, save for the occasional drive on all-weather tracks. Now;
a) What is the market value of this car if in good condition?
b) Are the spares parts of this car readily available? And are they expensive?
c) Can this car cover 500km without demanding a rest?
d) What is the maximum speed this car can achieve without compromising stability?
e) What is its standard fuel economy?
a) A car of this age will go for any price, literally, irrespective of mechanical condition. A well maintained car from this era could command as much as Sh300,000, but try selling someone a B12 at that price and watch them laugh in your face.
Then watch them make a counter offer of Sh100,000; not a penny more. It really depends on buyer-seller relationship, but on average, a good car should go for about Sh250,000.
b) Spares are available, I am not sure about the “readily” part. They are cheap though. Very cheap.
c) Depends. If it is in a mechanically sound condition, I don’t see why not. But first make sure you have enough fuel.
d) Maximum speed should be 120KPH. Anything beyond that and you are gambling with physics.
e) Expect about 14KPL on the open road for a carburettor engine, and about 16KPL to 18KPL for an EFI. Town use depends on traffic density.
We always appreciate your articles and the professional advice you offer to car owners, and even those who wish to own one.
Please advice me on the best buy between a Toyota Premio and the Allion in terms of performance, cost of spare parts, longevity, maintenance (frequency of breakdowns), off-road capability, ease of handling. Also, which one would you recommend for a car hire business, and please compare the NZE for the same role.
These two cars are the same. Believe me. The differences are very small, with the Allion seeming to age just a little bit faster than the Premio.
And I ask again: why do you people buy an Allion to take it off-road? What is wrong with you? Do you just willfully ignore what I say, or do you derive some pleasure from using the wrong tool in a task?
The Premio seems a bit more popular in the car hire business, although it costs a bit more on the dealer forecourts. On that front, the Allion might be the better choice.
Having car trouble? Send your questions to [email protected] for absolutely free expert advice