Other Countries Cars


Does everyone know that the car companies sell models in Canada you can’t buy in the US? Case in point. Toyota sells a four door hatchback Yaris up there, but nooo they don’t offer it here. Up there it is available with cruise control too. Not here. We are on the same continent. WHY TOYOTA? By the way, THEY have had the Smart for 2 years. Time to move eh?


In Spain they have had the SMART for the last three or four years and they have a much broader selection of diesel cars including diesel Toyotas. I wish I could buy a Toyota diesel here!


In Sweden, where I live, SAAB has been selling biogas cars for some time. They can burn biogas (methanol) or regular gasoline. Methanol is locally produced from sewage and is not taxed and so much cheaper. It also qualifies for a tax credit. I’m hoping SAAB will produce a biogas 9.3 wagon. That’s my next car.


Different countries have different requirements and laws as well as different demands due to road and weather. Finally people in different countries tend to have different taste in cars.

The decision of a car company on what cars to sell where depends on all those factors.


Diesels have been much more popular in Europe than the USA for a long time. It is probably related to the increased mileage for a diesel. The prices are inverted, too. Diesel is less expensive in Germany than gasoline, for instance. The diesel prices I’ve seen in the US are higher than gas over the past few years.


The diesel prices I’ve seen in the US are higher than gas over the past few years.

That has really been unusual, historically diesel fuel is less expensive in the U.S. Recently, diesel is less expensive again, hopefully it will stay that way.

Unfortunately, there are many cars that are not available in the U.S., the current safety/emissions requirements make it difficult/expensive to certify a car for the U.S. market which limits our choices. The recent shortage of diesels is also related to the U.S. dragging their feet on mandatory ULSD, manufactures were not able to sell their latest diesel engines due to U.S. fuel quality. Hopefully, we will start to see more diesel choices over the next few years.


There is no need to hope, Craig; diesels are coming back for 08. Honda will have one and VW will be back and there will be others including GM.


It’s about time, maybe that will help end the hybrid fad.


I don’t know if it’s true today, but GM, Ford and Chrysler sold cars in Canada in the 1940’s thru 1960’s that weren’t available in the United States. The Canadian Pontiac was a Chevrolet with different trim. Chrysler marketed a truck in Canada called the Fargo. Ford marketed a car called the Meteor. Maybe Toyota is picking up where the big three left off.


I suspect that less BS is required to certify cars for sale in canada than the U.S.; probably because canada doesn’t really have a domestic car industry to “protect” from imports.


Not only does Canada sell cars we in the US will never see, in europe, some of the perennial best sellers are cars we will never see.

For example, ford sells at least 3 models of cars that we will not get to experience over here, and the quality of the euro models makes ours look like plastic toys. The Ka, Mondeo, and Focus Hatch and Convertible, as well as their tuned cars! Volkswagon sells the Polo and the fox in europe, as well as the much bemoaned Phaeton and some van offerings. BMW has several diesel offerings, with spectacular engines, and the 1 series cars, which we won’t get for another year, and even then only in the coupe format leaving out the hatch and 4 door. Audi sells a 2 door A3, as well as the S3, neither of which we get here. Chevy offers 4 or 5 small cars that I’m sure will never see our shores, but its allright, they don’t sell very well over there either, same story with chrysler. We also miss out on some of the power they have over there. Most notably for me, the BMW M5 Wagon, that really is my dream car. Because I actually need a wagon that does nearly 200mph.

There is a lot of potential market, especially when you consider the ford cars sold in europe, the holdens in austrailia(which they are modifying to sell under US corperate brand divisions), as well as some of the other brands we don’t even get any more. Smart, Opel, Citroen, et al. Not that we want all of them, but the choice might be nice. Or at least send us the diesels and better built versions of the cars we allready sell here.

Wagonfan-to lazy to sign in


Yeah, I kinda know that already, seeing as I live in Canada (Eastern Ontario to be more exact.) Trim levels are often different on Canadian cars, as well as entire models. Pontiac offers the Pursuit (a clone of the Chevy Cobalt), and the Hyundai Accent GS is the low-end Accent (in the states, the GS model comes with a larger engine and more accessories.) And I can understand why Toyota offers the Yaris with cruise up here: unlike the US, in order to get ANYWHERE in Canada requires highway driving for a fair distance… particularly in the prairies.

Also, Canadian autos have a slightly different speedometer, with km/h in large numerals, and mph in smaller… and of course, the odometer is displayed in km instead of miles. Canada also seems to be a favourite of car companies to build manufacturing plants. Many of North America’s most popular vehicles are made here, including the Civic, a few Acura models, a number of Toyotas, the Chevy Impala, Dodge Charger, the Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis, and soon the Lincoln Towncar, some other Ford models, a bunch more GM models, and likely some more Chrysler models.


I think the hybrids are here to stay. Toyota now has them across their product line from the flagship Lexus to the Camry and beyond.

Personally I’d prefer not to see diesels proliferate until technology becomes available that can allow them to meet the same emissions requirements as gas engines are required to meet. My current understanding of Bluetooth technology is that while it’s a huge improvement it still won’t bring NOx emissions down to the level mandated for gas engines.

  • mountainbike


You’re thinking of BlueTECH, not bluetooth. bluetooth is cellphone. :stuck_out_tongue:
Also, it’s been said a few times before that diesels pollute differently than gas engines


I guess it depends if you are more concerned with NOX or CO2, it’s really apples and oranges and it makes no sense to directly compare gas and diesel emissions. In both cases, the emissions limits are established based on what can be achieved with a reasonable cost; both could be cleaner, and both could be much more expensive.

The basis of bluetech has been around forever, reacting the exhaust stream with ammonia will remove NOX. I worked on the design of a commercial project (for a DOE facility) based on that technology at least 15 years ago. At some point, you can remove almost all of the NOX but you will start releasing some ammonia to the environment. As usual, no free lunch.

I do wish we would quit wasting time and resources on hybrids, which I believe to be a stop-gap technology at best and a marketing gimmick at worst, and try to figure out how to build real vehicles with better efficiency/emissions. Hybrids may be a valid first step to introduce the public to alternative power sources, but let’s not get stuck there. I very much doubt you will be able to buy a hybrid in 20 years, they are just too complex to be the long term solution (sorta like the first generation of automotive emission controls in the 70/80s). I actually have more hope for “plug-in” electric vehicles over the long term.


Much of what gets sold here is controlled by safety and emissions regulations. By the time a manufacturer gets a model “certified” for sale in the U.S., the model becomes obsolete…Americans like to say they are “fighting for freedom” but I’m not too sure what that means. We are the most controlled and regulated people on earth.

And yes, people with brains and money ARE leaving the United States in large numbers…

And don’t hold your breath waiting for diesel cars. There is lots going on backstage, including trying to figure out where all the diesel fuel will come from. The trucking, airlines, construction, farmers and railroads don’t want to compete with everyday motorists for shrinking fuel supplies…


GM is aligning it’s models internationally. Opel and Saturn will sell many of the same models. Basically the same cars, just a different name.


You would have no idea what it takes to import a car into the U.S. unless you’ve seriously checked into it.

When I lived and worked in Germany, I bought a nice little 1984 Audi 80 sedan (similar to the U.S. 4000-series Quattro models, but without the all-wheel drive). It was quite economical, not high-powered, but handled beautifully and was quite comfortable.

When it came time to move back the U.S., I checked into the possibility of bringing my own little Autobahn-cruiser with me. Friends and acquaintances said that it could not be done. My car was not manufactured for the U.S. market, and I would have to buy a new car from the factory in Ingolstadt built to U.S. specifications if I wanted to bring an Audi back to the U.S.

I couldn’t take no for an answer. I figured that not having a built-in catalytic converter would be problematic, but an after-market catalytic converter kit could be installed. (Car registration taxes in Germany are based on your car’s pollution class, so even though catalytic converters are not required by law, it pays to have one.) I had also heard that the headlight illumination patterns are different in Europe, so I would be in for a new pair of lights that meet U.S. specificiations. I had already added an after-market third center brake light, just for my own personal safety, so that should take care of everything! Right? … Wrong!

When I searched the internet for U.S. government automobile importation requirements, I discovered that four independent agencies are involved: Customs; Environmental Protection Agency; National Highway Safety Administration; and the Department of Agriculture (really!?!).

It looked like the Department of Agriculture requirements would be easiest to satisfy. They don’t want anybody bringing bugs or weed seeds of any sort into North America. Even the road dirt that clogs up the little drains inside the bottom of the doors is not allowed. So the essential problem boils down to getting a car wash, with a really good underbody spray. It is sort of like detailing the exterior, except you clean all the places underneath the car where you wouldn’t normally look. And don’t even think about driving through a puddle on the way to the docks.

Then, there is Customs. Customs requirements are not technically difficult to satisfy either, but the part about accumulating enough cash to pay a large percentage of the car’s value in tolls could be costly enough to make you wonder, why bother?

When it comes to cars, everybody thinks of the EPA. They are really strict. The EPA would not consider letting me just ship a car over unless it had the original factory-issued certification sticker under the hood, indicating that the vehicle is identical to an original model that was tested to meet EPA standards (i.e. pollutant output, fuel economy ratings, etc.). Of course the manufacturer wouldn’t go back and put such a sticker on a car that was not originally built to meet those standards. I didn’t relish the thought of trying to replace my reliable little 90 HP 1.7 liter 4-cylinder OHC engine with a 5-cylinder motor and engine controls exactly the same as the ones that Audi installed in the equivalent 1984 Quattro 4000 models that were sold in the U.S.

The headlights fell into the National Highway Safety Administration’s baliwick. In the NHSA’s database, I found a handy-dandy checklist of safety requirements that must be met if an automobile is to be imported into the U.S. I scanning through nearly 200 items on the checklist, looking for headlight requirements. Of course there was the part about a third brake light (I already had that covered.), and having orange reflectors attached near the front front corners, but red reflectors on the rear corners. It’s as easy as outfitting a bicycle to be street-legal at night!

I still hadn’t found the part about headlight illumination patterns when I discovered how much concern my government legislators and bureaucrats have for my own personal safety in the car I already owned and drove! One part indicated that if I chose not to perform actual front and side impact crash tests to ensure respectable bumpers and provable protection from bodily injury, I could instead submit a thorough material strength analysis performed by a properly educated engineer to prove that the construction of my little Audi could indeed survive such a crash test to U.S. Government specifications.

Finally, I read this safety requirement for imported cars and my exercise in do-it-yourself auto importation came to a dumb-founded end. I would not be allowed to import my own car, which I have religiously buckled myself into before each and every trip, even if just to the grocery store, unless I installed a clearly audible signal to sound if I put the key into the ignition without buckling up!

Now, you may say, this safety feature has saved probably thousands of lives of forgetful people in auto accidents who really would not have worn their seat belt but for the annoying reminder of that silly buzzer before stopping the noise by turning the ignition key to start the engine. But why should I personally have to pay extra for no other purpose but to remind me to do something I always do anyway? Talk about Big Brother!

Well, I concluded my budding future as an auto importer with a call to a Virginia company which offers to take care of all the details of modifying, certifying, and importing foreign autos. When I told them I was thinking about importing a 19-year-old car of a common make and model, they laughed. They said, don’t call them without being prepared to spend at least $12,000 to import a car requiring even the simplest modifications. Their typical clients pay them to import cars valued in the $80,000+ range, such as rare Jaguar’s and Ferrari’s.

I “sold” my reliable little 19-year-old Audi 80 for the cost of a title transfer fee, flew to my brother’s house in Boston, bought a Greyhound bus ticket and rode along I-90 to Wyoming, where I bought my mother’s 12-year-old hail-storm surviving U.S.-assembled Honda Civic. And I sure do miss the Audi and the Autobahn.

All I can say in conclusion, is that most people, just as I, have absolutely no idea how much trouble the government of the “Land of the Free” goes to in ensuring their personal safety and protecting them from their own stupidity. I suspect the primary purpose of most auto import regulations is not to protect the driving citizenry, but to protect the sales market of manufacturers in the U.S.

And that is why efficient and safety-tested little cars such as the Ford Ka, the VW Polo, the Daimler SMART, the Audi A3 coupe, the S3, the BMW M5 wagon, Honda HR-X, the Toyota Yaris 4-door, and a host of other innovative vehicles don’t stand a chance in the U.S. market without a heap of moola to push them across the border from behind.



Your reply to my post is very interesting. Seems like some of us car fanatics need to start a lobby to encourage congress to do what the people want, not the auto industry. We need to contact our representatives with a never ending demand for more fuel efficient vehicles no matter their size. Your mention of the Smart is timely. I recently put down my $99 dollars to hold one, and just came from a invitation only test drive near Detroit for all who reserved one. The plans are to have them here the first quarter of 2008. GM looks like their Daewoo built mini cars are in the offing too. The only way to get back to parity with the rest of the world is to demand it.


Not the same but equalivalent. You can’t judge apples and oranges with the same rules.