Understandably we have been receiving a large number of enquiries about this topic in recent weeks.
Here are some answers to typical concerns.
Should I still import a car ?
Well, that depends on your personal circumstances and whether anything has changed for you:
– do you still want a car ?
– do you have cash ?
Providing you have secure employment which will remain unaffected by the current situation (and you don’t have all your savings sitting in the share market waiting for the recovery), then this is actually a great time to import a car while everyone else remains paralysed by fear.
After all, it’s been over 10 years since the global financial system was last under such stress, and this will have an inevitable impact on the prices of goods and services in the short term.
Suddenly cash is king and it is a buyer’s market, for now…
The exchange rate is low, should I wait for it to recover before I import ?
OK, so the AUD to JPY exchange rate dropped by around 11% at the height of the share market panic compared to just a few weeks ago, but has since made a recovery and sits at about 8% down at the time of this post.
The reduced / volatile exchange rate is an unfortunate side effect to the disruption of global markets but our advice here would be to forget the lower exchange rate – simply stick to the same total budget you had a few weeks ago and let the market determine what is possible at auction.
In coming months auction prices are likely to be cheaper generally, and in some cases this could more than offset the lower exchange rate, with the occasional bargain to be had.
As they say, you have to be in it to win it.
Will car prices be cheaper ?
Obviously we can’t know the impact on car prices in advance.
But considering that buying demand will be reduced and some sellers will be under increased financial pressure (depending on their individual circumstances), overall this will inevitably result in lower sale prices for at least some types of cars.
Whether the price will be higher or lower for the car you want will depend on what you are buying, and luck.
Clearly the longer the situation continues, the more impact there will be on prices as more sellers feel more pressure.
In the scheme of things however, it is important to remember that this is likely to be just a temporary and relatively short-lived blip in pricing, driven by public sentiment and news reporting.
As fears over the impact of the pandemic and how it is being handled start to subside, and our daily behaviours and expectations adjust, then markets (and prices generally) will also readjust.
There are already signs that China is getting on top of the spread of this virus and that manufacturing is coming back online in a staged and controlled way.
However, China has much more control over its citizens than most other countries which is the only factor that has made this possible.
For other countries that are still coming to terms with how to manage the response it seems we can expect 12 to 18 months of moderate disruption to our daily lives – and obviously more serious personal implications should we ourselves get infected.
As consumers, we can’t simply suspend buying for this period of time, instead we must proceed with a business as usual approach, considering the above factors.
Will the coronavirus affect shipping of cars from Japan ?
While export numbers may be reduced, the purchase and export of vehicles will continue and so will shipping.
Can you catch the virus from Japan when importing a car ?
While there is still much to learn about this novel coronavirus, medical research on other coronaviruses indicates a typical transmission viability of the virus on surfaces touched by an infected individual of about 9 hours, with up to 9 days under absolutely ideal conditions.
Shipping of a vehicle takes 12 to 16 days to most Australian Ports, then several days for clearance and delivery. The chance then of contracting the virus from an imported vehicle (or any other product shipped in a similar timeframe) even if it was touched by an infected person in Japan when it was driven onto the ship, is virtually nil.
Naturally other local hands will have touched your vehicle AFTER it arrives in Australia, so when you collect it you should follow the same personal hygiene practices you normally would in this circumstance – wash your hands and don’t touch your eyes, face, sensitive tissues or broken skin.