Shanghai Waigaoqiao Automobile Exchange Market Co yesterday was given a China Compulsory Certification (3C) for parallel imports of BMW X5 xDrive35i — the first in Shanghai’s free trade zone.
3C is a mandatory safety mark for both domestic and imported products in the Chinese market.
“It’s a significant move that paves the way for more parallel imported car models to get the certification,” said Zhang Min, general manager of the Waigaoqiao auto market.
China’s top certification authority streamlined 3C accreditation process for parallel vehicle importers last year, allowing them to get the certification without the authorization of manufacturers.
It is considered an important step for the growth of parallel imports.
In 2014, China started a trial program that allowed independent auto dealers registered in the Shanghai FTZ to directly import vehicles, a sales channel that is parallel to authorized dealers.
The program was later expanded to FTZs in Guangdong, Tianjin and Fujian.
Parallel imported cars are usually 10-20 percent cheaper than those in authorized dealers, but its sales were poor because of limited choices of models, poor after-sales service and the complicated certification process.
Previously, only dealers franchised by manufacturers could apply for 3C. Independent deals used to get around the regulatory pitfall by importing cars that worked out costly and time-consuming because of crash tests and disassembles.
Now, with the regulatory obstacle for parallel imports of cars cleared, it remains to be seen if sales surge.
“The sales volume will be dependent on parallel importers’ capability to build a purchase network in overseas markets,” said Shen Weihua, vice chairman of the Shanghai Commission of Commerce.
The Shanghai FTZ regulator also pledged to join hands with dealers to step up after-sales services for parallel imported cars, with measures such as building a special auto parts warehouse for after-sales maintenance and setting up a special fund to guarantee after-sales services.
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