The boss of Audi Australia says that fixing the situation with Australia’s luxury car tax (LCT) is ‘not that hard’ and that he remains an optimist for the future - but the issue of parallel imports remains a big concern.
Speaking with CarAdvice at the launch of the new 2016 Audi R8 in Canberra last week, Audi Australia boss, Andrew Doyle, said that proposed changes that would allow parallel imports would only cause more issues for consumers, while the reduction of LCT would have the same benefits.
“[We have a] few concerns about parallel import discussions, but the government [will] hopefully have a sense check about that and look at other options first, like LCT reduction, over time.” Doyle said.
According to Doyle, the private import of new cars from the UK and Japan will put at the risk the enormous investment that car companies have made in Australia in the past.
“We have an industry that has invested significantly over the last one hundred year across Australia, in terms of compliance regulations, and all. We have a duty of care to our consumer and we take that quite seriously.
“We are quite concerned that this would be a real buyer beware consumer treat, with no known provenance of the cars you’re purchasing from UK, Japan or anywhere, no knowledge from the manufacturer, no Australian-built specification or hot-country climate specifications - there is huge issues there in terms of warranty, security and safety.”
Doyle admitted that car companies speaking out against changes to import rules would “only come across as a form of self interest from us”. He said that, despite that perspective, the real threat is to consumer protection.
“It’s a much bigger deal than the private importation of another good that won’t take you 110km/h down the road… I think level heads should prevail. We are a strong consumer protection country, in terms of ACCC and so on, and I think they should think twice about it," he said.
In terms of financial benefits to the consumer from parallel imports, Doyle said that identical Audi models that don’t incur LCT are cheaper to buy here than overseas.
“Clearly our recommendation is quite a simple one, all the products that we have here, like-for-like - especially all those coincidentally before the LCT threshold - are cheaper to purchase locally than import. It’s only when you start putting our local taxes on top that they start to make a difference.”
The biggest issue for parallel-imported new cars is warranty. Which Audi, alongside other manufacturers, will not honour.
“A consumer brings a car in with the best intentions and then finds out they have no protection at all, no warranty at all. From our point of view, that’s not great, as we stand behind the Audi brand globally. That’s not something we are too pleased about.
"But global companies like Audi, and others, as well won’t warrant the product that isn’t fit for purpose.”
Audi Australia sales are up 8.3 per cent so far this year, compared to the same period in 2015. Audi remains the fastest growing luxury car brand in Australia over the last decade, with an average growth rate of over 20 percent annually.