Unlike parallel imports - vehicles from mainland Europe which undergo the same emissions and safety tests as UK models - grey imports may not meet the same requirements and replacement parts might be difficult to source. Trade uncertainty over the identification of thousands of non-UK cars is now a major factor threatening the recovery of confidence in the used car market, according to the latest issue of CAP Black Book. It warns that unwary traders and dealers - or private customers - can therefore find themselves unwittingly paying thousands of pounds more than the vehicle is worth, simply by failing to correctly identify it.
Black Book senior editor Daren Wiseman said: 'Grey imports are proving an extremely risky business for non-experts in the field. The need for careful identification and appraisal has never been so great. Some players will make a lot of money, but there will be others who get their fingers burned unless they know exactly what they are trading, financing or insuring.'
Nervousness among buyers is increased because of differing figures for the number of grey imports on UK roads, with CAP Black Book estimating 200,000, while Glass's Information Services says 20,000, after breaking down Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency figures. Glass's Guide's senior car editor, Jeff Paterson, said the likely effect of so few cars on the market would be 'negligible'.