Back where it all began
AutoValuation traces its roots back to 1999 when our director, Kristian Appelt, moved from Australia to Japan to take up a job teaching English, only to be offered a job as an auction agent, exporting vehicles from Japan to Australia. After returning to Australia, he began his own vehicle import brokerage service called Iron Chef Imports, initially as a ‘moonlighting’ hobby, then as a full-time broker in 2007.
In 2012, Kristian began receiving a number of enquiries from UK residents planning their moves to Australia and wanting to take their personal vehicles with them, which then led to the creation of a sister business called Iron Lady Imports. Business was soon booming, but there were a number of challenges faced when quoting potential customers.
Naturally, Iron Lady Imports customers wanted an ‘all-inclusive’ price, including how much they tax they would pay on their vehicles upon arrival in Australia. While Australia’s taxes and duties can be quite significant (especially once the Luxury Car Tax threshold is reached), Australian tax laws require a customs valuation on vehicles when they arrive, so that a fair amount of duty could be applied. At the time, this required a valuer to drive out to the wharf to physically check each vehicle – a process which in itself was both slow and expensive.
But how do the valuers then calculate the customs values? Back then, it seemed as though the valuation process involved reading tea-leaves, checking horoscopes and then putting numbers into a random generator to reach a final figure. For Kristian, this presented a bigger problem, because the inaccuracy of the valuations meant he was unable to give customers accurate quotes to ship their vehicles.
The final straw
In the space of two weeks, Kristian had two Iron Lady Imports customers’ vehicles arrive in Australia. The first vehicle was a BMW M6, which he had quoted with taxes based on a customs value of $70,000. The valuer turned up to inspect the vehicle and came back with a value of just $26,000, which, amazingly, was accepted by Australian Customs. The end result? An extremely happy customer who saved more than $7,000 on Kristian’s original tax estimate.
Then came another customer who moved to a different state, which obviously required a different valuer to attend and inspect his vehicle. Kristian had estimated this vehicle, a Jaguar X-Type, to be worth $10,000, only to have the valuer decide it was worth $22,000. This resulted in a rather grumpy customer paying more than $3,000 more than his original estimate. For Kristian, there had to be a better way.
Using current market values as a starting point, Kristian set about creating a calculator that would automatically incorporate all the allowed deductions to arrive at a very accurate and consistent final customs value. Moreover, being able to complete the valuation online would mean customs brokers and importers no longer had to wait days for a valuer to physically inspect vehicles. The new process would also be a win for Iron Lady Imports customers, with the expected taxes calculated by the same calculator when quoting.
After spending a day with Australian Customs demonstrating how the calculator worked (and making some minor alterations to the formula based on feedback from Customs officers), the calculator was complete and Kristian was able to quote accurately and complete vehicle valuations quickly and easily for his customers. The completed valuation certificates soon attracted the attention of customs brokers, who were excited by the prospect of being able to receive customs valuations with little fuss or delay.
And thus AutoValuation was born. As a result of his work in this specialised field, Kristian has been elected a Certified Asset Valuer by the Australian Valuers Institute, and AutoValuation continues to provide customs valuations for dozens of regular clients, from individual vehicle importers right through to multinational logistics companies.
AutoValuation is a sub-brand of Auto Services Group, which provides a wide range of vehicle logistics support services for private and corporate clients across the globe.