Here in the USA, we love our foreign cars! You hear about them in pretty much every song on the radio these days, because we all know that guy in the Maserati is seriously ballin’. But it might surprise you to learn that, in some countries, importing a foreign car can be ridiculously expensive! And I’m not just talking about Maseratis and Mercs, if you live in China, you’re looking at luxury car prices for a Camry!
Now, here’s an article that’ll make you proud to be American… these are the crazy prices they pay for cars in other countries!
BMW M4 Coupe (Thailand)
If you’ve ever been to Thailand, you probably noticed that most things are exceptionally cheap. You can get a plate of lobster for less than what a Big Mac will cost you in New York, you can rent a motorbike for month for the same price as a round of drinks in San Francisco, but one thing that doesn’t come cheap in the Land of Smiles: imported cars.
Thailand’s import tax on foreign cars can skyrocket as high as 200% for certain brands, begging the question: why on Earth would you ever buy a foreign car in Thailand? For a 2020 BMW M4 Coupe that costs $69,150 MSRP in the USA, you’re looking at a premium of nearly $200,000 in the southwest Asian nation. But if you think it’s absolutely ludicrous to shell out $267,100 on an M4 Coupe, there’s apparently a lot of Thai people who would disagree with you.
BMWs are largely popular in the streets of Thai cities, particularly in Bangkok, where the country’s elite have concentrated. I guess having a ridiculously overpriced foreign whip is somewhat of a status symbol over there.
If you ask me, I’d much rather go with a locally-made Toyota or Mazda and avoid paying that sky-high import tax. Or, do like the Thais do, and get a Honda Click scooter for like $100. That being said, it’s really no surprise Thailand is one of the most dangerous nations in the world to drive in.
Toyota Prius (Indonesia)
Indonesia is undoubtedly one of the most gorgeous countries on the planet, partly because they do so much to protect their natural environments. But the Indonesian government isn’t just concerned with protecting their trees, they have some very strong protections to their domestic car market as well. Up until 2014, there was a 75% tax on luxury cars, which is crazy high. To give some perspective, our import tax here in the grand old USA is just 2.5%.But in 2014, the Indonesian government revised the law so that these swanky rides could be taxed up to 200%!
And it’s not just Rolls-Royces and Maseratis that take a hit from this tax code. Even crappy hybrids like the Toyota Prius are skyrocketing in price in Indonesia. A 2017 Prius, which you could get for $21,700 in the US, goes for $65,000 in Indonesia. I guess if you live over there, you just have one more reason among many not to buy a Prius.
Another thing that may contribute to the high prices is the fact that Indonesia, like Thailand, is completely dominated by scooters, even though it rains pretty much nonstop from November to March. Wet roads with mostly motorbikes, I’d pass on driving in Indonesia too.
Toyota Camry Hybrid (China)
Look around your house and you’ll probably realize that almost everything says “Made In China” on the bottom of it. It seems like China produces all of the world’s goods, so it kind of makes sense that they would tax their citizens to import anything, and cars are no exception.
A Toyota Camry Hybrid costs $28,430 in the USA, but if you want to get one in China? You’re looking at more like $50,000. That’s most likely due to an import tax on foreign cars, but there’s also a chance that China’s imposing a We’re-Still-Mad-At-The-Japanese tax as well.
If you’re wondering what Chinese people drive since foreign prices are through the roof, it might surprise you to know that there are actually some pretty large Chinese car manufacturers. The Big Four car companies in China, as they’re called, are Dongfeng, SAIC Motors, FAW, and Chang’an. And if none of those are ringing a bell, maybe you’ve heard of the Geely Coolray.
Still no? Well, you might be hearing of some Chinese manufacturers soon, since several of them set up facilities in California and Michigan. US citizens may have access to cheap Chinese autos in the near future, as for the Chinese people, they’re stuck overpaying for a Camry.
Honda Accord (Malaysia)
The capital city of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, is known as one of the most diverse cities in the world. The streets are a melting pot of different cultures and traditions. One place, however, where they apparently have no room for diversity is their car market.
The Malaysian government has imposed high import taxes on foreign autos, mostly to protect their domestic auto-makers. The largest marque in Malaysia is Proton, which unsurprisingly is owned by a Chinese holding company. Proton makes solid enough cars, but if you’re Malaysian and you want to go for something foreign, you’re getting slapped with a massive import tax.
Even boring cars like a Camry or a Honda Accord carry luxury car prices over there. A 2020 Accord, for example, which will run you $24,270 in the land of the bald eagle, will cost around $45,000 in Malaysia. Import duties on foreign cars were once as high as 300% for fully-assembled models, however, in 2003, they dropped that number all the way down to 200%. Wow, only 200%… what a gift from the Malaysian government…
Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited (Singapore)
Singapore has absolutely exploded in the last decade into one of the most prosperous countries in the world. The island has attracted so many people that it’s now become one giant sardine can, with over 21,000 people per square mile. To give you some perspective, New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the US, has around 1,200 people per square mile.
So, as you can imagine, if everyone in Singapore had a car, the result would be the worst traffic jam you could possibly imagine. The Singaporean government has avoided this by slapping massive import taxes on foreign cars and forcing carowners to purchase a certificate of entitlement.
Take the Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited, for instance. While in the US, you could have a 2020 model for just over $40,000. But for that very same 2020 Grand Cherokee, you’re looking at $243,000! And that’s not all, remember that certificate of entitlement? That’s going to run you another $50,000 to $70,000. And don’t even get me started on gas prices in Singapore!
Most people on the island choose not to own a car and just take the MRT train around instead. Which is understandable when a Grand Cherokee Limited costs as much as a McLaren 720S.
Chevrolet Camaro (Brazil)
Yes, buying an imported car in Brazil can be quite expensive, but what may be even worse than the 35% import tax, is the massive stack of paperwork you have to complete to even have your foreign import approved. The process is apparently brutal. You have to file paperwork with 5 different agencies, and sometimes even more depending on what car you want. And I thought going to the DMV was bad!
That import tax is certainly nothing to be scoffed at, though. If you’re looking to buy a 2018 Chevy Camaro in Brazil, it’ll cost you $85,000. Whereas in the US, you’d pay $28,500 for the same car! And once you actually have your 2018 Camaro, you’ll probably regret it once you get to the gas pump. Fuel prices are crazy high in this South American country!
Unfortunately for the Brazilian people, there are very few options in terms of domestically-made cars in Brazil. So, if you’re looking to drive, you really have no choice but to buy an overpriced car and then dump all your money into your gas tank.
Volkswagen Passat (Cuba)
The island nation of Cuba was liberalized back in 2011, and since then, they have allowed the imports of foreign cars. But just because they’ve allowed it doesn’t mean they’ve encouraged it whatsoever. The Cuban government has tightly controlled prices of foreign-made cars, hitting them with high tariffs and making them pretty much impossible to afford for your average Cuban. If you’re a Cuban citizen looking to import a 2010 Volkswagen Passat, you’re looking at a whopping $77,580 for a car that would cost you just $28,000 in the US!
The result? Cuban streets are now flooded with classic American cars that they imported from 1919 to the beginning of the Cold War, and instead of scrapping those old buckets like we have here stateside, the Cubans have been fixing their own cars with parts ripped off of Russian Volgas and Chinese Geelys, and kept them running for years.
As cool as it is that the Cubans have kept all these classics alive and running, I’m going to go ahead and say Cuba is another place I would avoid driving.
Honorable Mention? (North Korea)
As you can imagine, getting any kind of foreign car in North Korea is a near-impossibility. If you’re Kim Jong’s right-hand man, you may be able to get your hands on a knock-off Mercedes called a Pyongyang 4.10. If you’re an average citizen, your best bet would be to get some sort of Russian Volga, but you’d probably discover that no one’s been able to import spare parts for a Volga in 30 years.
You’re pretty much shit-outta-luck if you want a Japanese motor, considering Kim Jong Ill apparently got stuck behind a Japanese car in traffic and had all of the Japanese cars in the country confiscated. And if you want an American car in North Korea? Ha! Yeah… you’d probably end up missing without a trace…