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Dealers mum on purchase of car
Representatives of dealerships Toyota Trinidad and Tobago Ltd and Lifestyle Motors yesterday refused to comment on any matters surrounding the purchase of vehicles for Government Ministries. The purchase of a $400,000 duty free Porsche Cayenne Diesel for Food Production Minister Vasant Bharath is now the centre of attention. A well-placed source in the car industry said the vehicle was “the lowest end... the Diesel... because of the tax structure in Trinidad.” Porsche offers five models of the sports utility vehicle (SUV) – Cayenne, Cayenne Diesel, Cayenne S, Cayenne S Hybrid and Cayenne Turbo.
The source said the car was “not as fancy” as people perceived and “is perfect for what the minister uses it for.” A “regular” vehicle was priced at $975,000. The luxury vehicle was bought in September 2010 from official distributor Lifestyle Motors in San Juan and assigned to the Ministry of Food Production. It was a showroom vehicle and no customisation was requested. It is the official vehicle used for ministerial assignments by Bharath. The issue was raised by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley on Tuesday who said such a vehicle had no place in a ministry.
However, Bharath has since defended the purchase, saying there was no extravagance with the purchase because of its cost. When Lifestyle Motors was contacted yesterday, the representative was hesitant to comment. He said the dealership did not want to be involved in the controversy since some of what was reported about the organisation in another newspaper was incorrect. He added: “False information is very bad. Why single out Lifestyle Motors? “The car was purchased here but the article is not about us.”
He said they were free to sell to whoever they wanted. At the Toyota company, T&T Guardian was told that the finance director had no comments. The representative who relayed the message said the reason may have been because of the current reports. The Toyota Land Cruiser Prado is widely used by Government Ministries. The representative said the listed price was $735,000 while the retail price was about $730,000. He said customisation was around $835,000. Speaking about the controversial vehicle, a source said no two Porsche Cayenne SUVs have the same features.
Customers request additional features which can carry the cost up to as much as $2 million. Customers can choose from a range of extra-cost options to their vehicles’ exterior, interior, wheels, engine, transmission, chassis and audio system. The source added: “Because of the taxing structure the vehicle (Bharath’s) becomes the base model. “Everyone of the vehicles owned by customers is different.” Lifestyle Motors is said to have sold 100 Porsche Cayenne SUVs last year.
Standard features of the Porsche Cayenne Diesel:
• Leather interior;
• front and rear park assist;
• 3.0–litre V6 turbo-diesel engine;
• all-wheel drive;
• eight-speed Tiptronic S with auto start/stop function; and
• monochrome black interior package (high gloss).
Land Cruiser Prado specifications (leather VX model):
• 16 valve DOHC four-cylinder In-line, 3.0L diesel 1KD-FTV L4 common rail diesel engine system;
• specialised ABS with brake assist; electronic brake distribution;
• cruise control;
• airbag system; and
• child restraint system.
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