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Why we're against Canada's Import Restrictions & 15 Year Rule

Our position is that the 15-Year Rule does not serve the interests or needs of Canadians.
It only serves to protect the market share of car dealerships from having to compete less and drives up the price of the used car market.

Here are the main points we will discuss in relation to the 15-Year Rule:

  1. Violation Of The Consumer's Rights
  2. Safety Is Not The Issue
  3. There Is No Reliable Proof These Cars Pose A Danger
  4. Most Countries Do Not Have These Restrictions
  5. It Only Benefits The Dealerships

1. The Government Should Protect The Consumer's Right To Choose

One of the many examples that most closely resembles this issue is satellite television.
It is currently illegal to even subscribe to a US satellite provider.

What does this have to do with the 15-Year Rule?  We believe the answer is simple, local television and satellite providers have lobbied our government to ensure they face less competition and gain more market share.  Simply put, the television providers are doing their best to keep a strangle hold on our near-monopoly in television providers.

If you could buy better and cheaper satellite from the US, you probably would right?

The same example applies to the importation of used cars from Japan and abroad.
Car dealerships have lobbied our government in order to stop even 15-Year old cars in better shape than cars available locally from arriving on our shores.

2. Safety Is Not The Issue

Transport Canada and some other Insurance Agencies (namely ICBC) have tried to say their main issue and concerns with JDM Japanese Used Car Imports are "safety" which is their explanation for why the car must be 15 years or older, or for the proposed change to 25 years.

This to us does not make any sense for the consumer or under any kind of logic, unless you are a company or organization who stands to benefit by having less cars on the market.

All of the imports coming in have met the safety standards in their own country and most come with equivalent safety features that cars from our market had 15 years ago.  Further, in comparison to some cars that were already available in Canada, some of the JDM (Japanese) counterparts had enhanced safety features such as Traction Control Systems (TCS) of which till this day no North American model has had.  A good example is some JDM Integra's having traction control whereas no Integra in North America ever had it.

Even if one can argue that 15 year old or 25 years old Japanese cars are really unsafe, why would you allow them?  We know the stand point of the TC (Transport Canada) that they believe restricting the importation of such cars deters people from wanting to import such cars but does it make sense? 

The bottom line to us, is that if the older JDM cars are not deemed safe enough by our government then they should let much newer vehicles into this country, ones that have even better safety standards than the old ones and likely more safety features than the current North American models.  However, this was never an idea, option or a proposal in the legislation change, their only proposal is to increase the age limit to 25 years, thus making it nearly impossible to import a decent JDM car.

What's more is that the average JDM car that is 15 years old is in better condition, has less mileage and is overall safer than a 15 year old used car on our local market.

If we go further, many countries in Europe and Asia allow a mixture of local and import cars of LHD and RHD on the road with no evidence or studies proving that their domestic or imports differ in their crash or safety statistics.

So if safety is the only complaint the government has and there is a way to resolve it by allowing newer JDM cars which are certainly much safer, why don't they?  The answer is pretty obvious, and although our government has a duty to protect our economy, it must also understand that in our democracy and free market, consumers have the right to choose the best car for their money, rather than the dealerships having the right to sell the worst car for the most amount of money.

3.  There Is No Reliable Proof That These Cars Pose Any Danger

Of all the countries who have a mixture of local and imported cars, it's only ICBC that has come to the conclusion that RHD imports supposedly pose a danger.  In 2007 they released a report which they admit is certainly not conclusive that supposedly RHD Imports are at a higher risk of a crash.

However, there are many discrepancies in this report and the Imported Vehicles Owners Association of Canada (IVOAC) and others have found many causes for concern in ICBC's report, thus demanding the raw data of the statistics under the Freedom of Information Act.

To summarize, ICBC made no effort to ensure the comparison between imported and domestic cars was unbiased and accurate.  For example, it is well known that high performance cars such as Mustang's, BMWs, Ferrari's, Viper's etc are much more likely to be in a crash, however it appears their study compared the performance monster, Nissan Skyline to cars such as the Nissan Sentra (a small and slow family sedan).  In fact, any study that was conducted in such a manner is bound to be inaccurate considering that the majority of cars being imported tend to be high performance, turbocharged cars which by their very nature would account for a higher accident rate, just as local performance cars are more likely to be involved in an accident.

This is just at a first glance but one can see how any study based on such a premise is inherently flawed.
ICBC later admitted to the press that the study is not conclusive or perfect, yet for some reason they released it knowing the implications it would have on the owners of JDM Imports.  What's more is that many other insurance agencies began to refuse to insure such vehicles, citing ICBC's flawed study as the reason, a result which ICBC must have known would occur as a result of the study.

As far as anyone can tell, the only motivation to release such a flawed study would be to devalue and further deter people from purchasing and importing more JDM cars to compete with the local market.  As most people are aware of, with the onslaught of cheaper American cars, local car dealerships are doing their best to deny warranties and ensure people are deterred from bringing cars from the United States in order to protect their marketshare.

4.  Most Countries Do Not Restrict Imported Cars

There are few countries who have such tight restrictions on the importation of vehicles and in fact many countries such as Kenya depend on JDM Imports because they are known for their value, reliability and safety.  They also commissioned local Japanese agencies to ensure the cars being exported are safe.  In reality, Japan has far more controls and safety regulations to ensure their used cars are road worthy, this is known as Shaken and it is a strict safety test to ensure the car is in proper and safe working condition.

Even the way the Japanese auction their cars is more honest and accurate compared to North American car auctions, where every scratch and sign of an accident or repair is reported and disclosed regardless of the total damage.

5.  The 15-Year Law or Proposed Changes Only Benefit Dealerships

We hope that anyone reading this has come to the very obvious conclusion that the only interest in disallowing such cars to be imported is not in the interest of the public or the consumer.  This appears to be another desperate move by the car industry to maintain their profits and marketshare on a very tough market.

If safety is the issue with these cars then the government should not allow such old vehicles to be imported.  It makes sense to only allow 10 year old cars in and to allow the newest cars from Japan to directly enter our shores which would instantly alleviate and resolve any outstanding or debatable concerns on safety.

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