There are a lot of new car scams in the world and most of them are initiated by the new car dealer, not the buyer. A group of buyers flipped the script on several Los Angeles dealerships, by using fake identities to purchase 20 cars and were shipping them to Hong Kong and Vietnam to sell them for two to three times their U.S. value.
It was a laundry list of luxury vehicles, such as a $280,000 2010 Ferrari 458 Italia, an Audi Quattro, 2012 Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4, along with several Mercedes, Lexus, Infiniti, and BMW SUVs among others. For some reason, the thieves even threw in a Toyota Tundra.
The one that got these fraudsters busted was the Ferrari 458 Italia, as Ferrari fitted the supercar with a GPS system as standard, which Ferrari used to track the car once they found out they were defrauded. This led U.S. Customs and the California highway Patrol to conduct a full investigation and find the cars on a ship that had already pulled away from the port.
Needless to say, that ship was forced to come back and all but four of the cars were recovered. The four non-recovered cars are due to be shipped back by Vietnamese Customs.
According to the report, had the fraudsters not gone after the Ferrari, chances are they would have gotten away with this scam and made a ton of money in the process. The total amount of the vehicles seized by U.S. customs is estimated at $1.5 million, which would have pulled in around $3 million in Hong Kong and Vietnam.
We are still trying to figure out what in the world a Toyota Tundra was doing in the mix with all of these high-end luxury cars. We also wonder which thief drew the short straw and was stuck going to the Toyota dealership to pick this thing up?
In the 2012 model year, the Toyota Camry received a redesign, well actually two redesigns. In the U.S. we saw a Camry that featured a rather un-Camry-like wedge front end. In Thailand, however, they received a more conventional looking Camry. Recently, a brochure leaked about the new Thailand-style Camry making its way to Malaysia in June 2012.
Does this necessarily mean that the newly redesigned Camry will be available in the U.S.? Not really, but it is a good sign that it may eventually make its way here. This new Camry will likely be a test mule to see how it performs in smaller markets. If it does well, it will likely make its way around the world.
This “new“ Camry features a stouter looking front end that nearly resembles the front end of some Lexus cars. Not a big surprise, considering Toyota and Lexus are under the same Toyota Motor Company umbrella and have shared components regularly. Gone is the two bar grille, space ship-like headlights, and wedge style front end. In their place is a five-bar chrome grille, flatter front end, and more classy-looking headlights, making this look much more conventional and nearly like a luxury car.
For now, we can only hope that a new Camry comes to the U.S., but there is no anticipated replacement in the U.S. market. Then again, Toyota does have its unnamed sedan that it’s unveiling at the 2012 New York Auto Show, which we all assume is an updated Avalon, but it could be a Camry. Plus, you just never know what kinds of tricks these car companies have up their sleeves at these car shows.
Gas prices might not be high here in the Untied States currently, but they sure are in other countries and Toyota is reaping the benefits. The Prius hybrid is selling so well, that Toyota is looking to extend production of the car to Thailand.
According to Japan’s Nikkei, Toyota would use Thailand as an export base for all of Southeast Asia. That might even include Japan, where the Prius has been the best-selling car for 15 straight months.
Thailand is currently building the Camry Hybrid, which should make it easy to expand Prius production. It will be so easy in fact, that production could begin by the end of this year. The car’s batteries and other various components will still come from Japan.
Currently, the hybrid is built in China and Japan. Toyota was going to bring production to the United States, but a slumping economy last year threw that plan into the grave.