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Toyota Slams Knesset Plan to Allow More Car Imports

A Knesset effort to lower car costs may be thwarted by the manufacturers of the cars themselves, with Toyota the first to protest.
By Yosef Berger
First Publish: 5/26/2014, 7:02 PM

New cars
New cars
Israel news photo: Flash 90

A Knesset effort to lower the price of cars for Israelis may be thwarted by the manufacturers of the cars themselves. In a letter to the Knesset Economics Committee, which has been discussing legislation that would allow more companies to import vehicles into Israel – thus increasing competition – Toyota said that it could not guarantee the safety of models that are not officially imported into Israel by its local authorized dealer.

Under the legislation, importers not affilated with a car company's offcial representative would be able to import models not sold in Israel, including cars that are from previous model years. The law would require the authorized dealer to provide services for these vehicles, including repair services and parts.

In its letter, Toyota said that the legislation was unfair, and that the Knesset was demanding from car makers conditions that did not exist anywhere else in the world. Toyota said that the decision on which models to sell in a particular country was made by company experts, who matched a vehicle's capabilities and engineering to the enviroment, roads, weather conditions, etc. in a market. The letter, first published in the Calcalist business daily, says that the company was “extremely worried” about the legislation.

“The demands make clear that the Knesset does not consider Israeli auto dealers to be the legal representatives of the car companies,” despite contracts and agreements between local agencies and manufacturers, the letter said. “The Israeli dealers do not have the equipment or knowhow to support these models,” it added.

Toyota is the first car manufacturer to protest the Knesset's plans, although other companies have registered their displeasure with two industry groups, both of which have expressed similar protests.