I am often asked: "Why do I need to buy a GCC specification car when European or US models appear to be better value?" The answer is simple – manufacturers change the specifications to suit the conditions of the destination market.
At this time of year the harsh climate of the UAE is far from our minds. However, consider what we experience for the lion's share of the time; dust, sand, high humidity and extreme temperatures. All of these represent manifestly different operating environments for cars than the climatic offerings of the US or Europe.
Let's consider some of the pitfalls. Dust and sand is an obvious concern. Add some engine oil to the dust and sand and you have nothing short of grinding paste. It's not the stuff you want swishing around under the bonnet. Hence the GCC modifications to filtration systems, for example, lead to longer lifespans for engines and transmission systems. You should also expect modifications to limit dust and sand ingress into bearings, pumps and motors.
In addition, the capacity of radiators, cooling systems and air- conditioning units of non-GCC specified units simply couldn't cope with the region's extreme temperatures. Let's not run the risk of the engine overheating – or worse; the driver overheating in the snagged traffic along Sheikh Zayed Road. High humidity levels and the proximity of most conurbations to the coast also affect the risk of corrosion and therefore rust-proofing is advisable.
My final point on the "GCC or not" dilemma is ongoing maintenance. Don't overlook running costs in favour of a seemingly good purchase price for a non-GCC unit. It is possible that you may have to import or pay the levy of imported replacement parts. The majority of new cars are diagnosed and assessed electronically and it is possible that authorised service agents' equipment won't "talk" to your car and cannot guarantee how successful servicing has been.
I conclude my observation of this issue with something we all know; those seemingly great bargains always seem to have strings attached. Let me assure you that some manufacturers will run test vehicles in this region for up to two years to ensure the viability and reliability of a model. It is not without significant consideration and experience that they will finalise a car as "fit for purpose" in the GCC.
And finally, remember that whenever you come to sell this non-GCC specified car, the prospective purchaser might have a totally different view on its value than you might think.
- The author is General Manager of Trading Enterprises and Al Futtaim Automall
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