Volvo dealer calls it quits
Brian Bonitto, Special Assignment Editor
AFTER MORE than four decades as Jamaica's sole Volvo distributor, Karram's Regency Automobiles Limited is winding down its "automotives operations".
In a letter sent to their "valued customers", Managing Director Christopher Karram said the decision to close down operations was taken "over three years" ago.
The letter, dated July 30, 2010, further stated that Volvo has not appointed a local dealer but a service agent is available.
"It was a difficult decision and wasn't taken lightly," the second-generation businessman told Automotives in an interview.
"We have been the dealers for over 42 years," he continued.
The managing director of the Old Hope Road-based establishment said his company gave Volvo notice of its intention as far back as 2007.
"They [Volvo] requested we stay on three months and at the end of that period, another six months.
"We, however, continued to service the vehicles to facilitate our valued customers," he said.
However, the auto dealer said come month end that aspect too will be discontinued.
"Come Tuesday, August 31, we will cease servicing vehicles but sales on parts will continue for the next two to three months until our inventory is depleted," he said.
Karram said his company's exit from the sector was due to uncompetitiveness in the marketplace.
"We noticed a downturn in business from about 9/11," the businessman said. He was quick to point out he regreted the displacement of employees by the move.
"At present, 14 staffers will be affected ... and we regret this," he said.
Karram said the immediate plans were to rent the property and it was not the end of the road for him in the auto business.
"We're always looking for opportunities ... it's in my blood, that's what I know."
Currently, GM Challenger is the authorised service agent for Volvo in Jamaica.
Volvo, which means 'I roll' in Latin, is lauded for its high safety standards. The company - Volvo Car Corporation - is a Swedish automobile manufacturer founded in 1927. On August 2, 2010, the company changed hands from Ford to Chinese firm Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.
Owners of Volvos are often proud of the vehicles' roadworthiness. American Irv Gordon in his 1966 Volvo P1800 made the Guinness World Record for most miles driven by a single owner in a non-commercial vehicle. He has driven over 2.8 million miles.