MUSCAT, Dec 9 – Oman has apparently become a thriving market for imported used cars with “serious damage” from road accidents or those “damaged during natural disasters”. Scores of vehicles, either banned after a major accident or those that have suffered irreversible damage in a natural calamity “are entering the Sultanate through a neighbouring country”, it is learnt. The middlemen, of course, seem to be the biggest beneficiaries. A man with a large showroom in Seeb said he imports vehicles, mostly salon cars and 4X4s, from the neighbouring country.
These were previously imported from a foreign country. “I sell them here because we have a robust market for such cars,” he said. Car aficionados in Oman crave for vehicles with a different specs other than ‘Khaleeji’ (Gulf). Since these cars are imported from a western country, the demand for the same has been growing.
The middlemen use social media extensively to hardsell vehicles and get customers to call them.
They show the cars to potential customers either at the largest used car market in Wadi Kabir, adjacent to the Friday Market, or invite them to their showrooms where they are “displayed to impress”. They would show the clients the photographs of these cars having met with minor accidents abroad and other pictures of them undergoing repairs — replacement of fenders or a bent door and the like. More often than not, they are buying a car which is not Oman-specific. Many are bound to fail the fitness test conducted by the Royal Oman Police (ROP).
“I imported some hundred cars recently and supplied to the retailers here. The advantage is we don’t have the trouble of importing them. Such formalities are taken care of by the principal importer who will sell it to us at a premium. We add our portion of profit and sell them,” said a middleman.
Experts say buying such a car is “not an issue”, but “make sure they have Khaleeji specifications” and can pass the fitness test.
“Buy such cars only after a thorough check by a competent mechanic, but make sure they have Middle East specifications. More often than not, they may not be suitable for the climatic conditions of this land,” said Varghese, an automotive specialist.
“Simply put, if they (cars) are made to be used in cold countries, one would be inviting trouble later by buying them.”
Broken dashboards and engine failure are some of the problems found in such cars.
To be on the safer side, one should check for the chassis number online and the insurance firm, if they had an earlier claim, and consult a local mechanic, said most car experts.