Saturday, March 29, 2014

Where DOES the money go? - São Paulo

So I was in the Volvo dealer again last week. Our old XC90 (and when I say our, I mean BH's) is giving up the ghost. We are trying to limp through to August when we will attempt to sell it for parts. Haha, just kidding all you used car buyers. It's great. 

So while I was waiting for service on it, I couldn't resist wandering around the new cars. At the moment my fantasy car is any little car. Any hatchback at all that will fit two fat labradors. The v40, not available in the US, is a little cutie and they had a model that was painted Swedish blue with yellow stripes on it. Love.

The top-seller right now for Volvo in São Paulo is the XC60. It's smaller than the XC90 which they don't sell anymore awaiting a new incarnation. Can metal be incarnated? I dunno. Anyway, I started checking out the XC60 and then asked how much it cost, low end. And then I fainted. No, not really.

The XC60 costs, low end, R$155,000 or US$68,500. In the US, it costs US$35,000. Again, low end. It costs exactly double here in Brazil. Why, you ask? Import taxes. 

Now I understand the theory of protecting local manufacturing. As soon as Brazil figures out how to produce a car as technically-advanced and secure (hmmm, how to phrase the tank-like qualities of a Volvo?) as a Volvo,  I am all in favor. But, Brazil produces many unsafe cars, at the very bottom end of acceptable.

And where exactly do the import duties go? Certainly not to the roadways which are pockmarked with enormous potholes. Certainly not to traffic lights which can't stay working in the slightest drizzle. Not to painting lane markings or warnings of speed bumps, one of which certainly took out the suspension of the Volvo last year. 

One of the biggest misconceptions of Brazil is not the idea that the women all walk around in short skirts and/or bikinis, or that we all live on the beach, but that it is inexpensive to live in a developing country. Life is really expensive here. The assumption must be that who can afford a Volvo doesn't care so much (ours, by the way, was bought cheaply after BH left the company which had provided it). 

Here's hoping our old Volvo can make it a short couple of months more. I can't take another visit to the new car showroom.

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