Ever wonder where wrecked cars end up after a crash? After they’ve been deemed a total loss by the insurance companies, they meet a variety of fates. Many cars that are badly damaged after a collision, or natural causes such as hail, are deemed suitable only for the scrapyard, and are promptly turned into scrap and recycled. Other crashed cars may be deemed to be repairable vehicles, despite the fact they were determined to be too costly to fix. These vehicles are, sometimes, bought back from the insurance company by their prior owner and repaired with the money received from the said company. Though these salvaged cars will now carry that title for the rest of their lives, many return to faithful service for their owners. Some, however, are destined for a second life after shipping overseas. Bought at auctions, usually in bulk, these damaged, but not destroyed, vehicles are bought by companies to be sent overseas to emerging markets.
The Market for Salvaged Cars is Growing in the Middle East
Multiple companies are sending such cars overseas. In some cases, the insurance companies themselves sell vehicles they own to foreign buyers, who will often sell them, still damaged, to buyers in countries with little or no auto rules and regulations. Often, third party companies will buy the vehicles from the insurance companies and resell them at reduced prices to foreign dealerships that will repair and sell the vehicles to the public.
The demand for repairable salvage cars is growing, especially in developing countries like Afghanistan and Iran, where the average worker will never have the money to buy a new car. In many of these countries, there is no indigenous car manufacturer, and large foreign companies, like GM and Toyota, won’t recognize a good return on investment, and as such, will not spend much time marketing or importing cars into the region. Other times, government restrictions mean the barriers to entry are difficult or nearly impossible to bypass, leaving car-craving citizens out of luck. In the case of Iran, a supply of salvaged cars must pass through many gray markets to arrive from the United States, as companies that operate in the US are officially banned from trading with the country. These vehicles are often sold by American companies, usually wholesale auction companies, to foreign companies in places like Pakistan, which then repair and resell the vehicle to wholesalers in places like Iran.
Afghanistan a Major Market for Damaged Cars
One particularly voracious market for such vehicles has been Afghanistan. Since the Taliban was swept from power in 2001, the demand for automobiles in Afghanistan has risen exponentially. Without a well developed indigenous network, and uncertainty and high risk from foreign brands, the market here is almost exclusively second hand cars from the United States and Europe. Many are damaged and repaired as best they can be by local mechanics, and then sold to local customers. Japanese vehicles are the most common, with the iconic Toyota Corolla being a favorite. This stems from a combination of reliability and price, with parts and labor to fix Japanese vehicles being significantly lower than their American and European counterparts.
So, though the vehicle in which you had your first kiss or drove your kids to school the first time may no longer be with you, you can take a small comfort in knowing that, perhaps, your vehicle is still soldiering on, allowing the opportunity for another driver in a foreign land to have the same opportunities and memories you did in the vehicle.