Differences between PI and AD
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With the growing numbers of car dealers, which one should you go for?

Category: Car Buying Advice

AD vs PI, which one is your choice?

Authorised Distributors (AD) are companies that have won exclusive distribution rights for a particular car brand from the manufacturer of the vehicle. For example, the authorised distributor for Nissan cars is Tan Chong Motors, and that for Toyota cars is Borneo Motors.

Parallel Importers (PI) purchase directly from the factories producing the vehicles and then import them to Singapore. Parallel importing of cars is perfectly legal. Parallel importers do not have any limitation on the brand of vehicles they can retail, unlike authorised distributors who can only sell the make of vehicle they are representing. The addition of parallel importers give consumers more choices and promotes competition.

Scale of Operations

There are over forty car makes in Singapore, each with their own distributor. These AD tend to be large companies with a sizable staff strength.

There are hundreds of parallel importers in Singapore. Most of them are small companies, though there are a few larger and more established ones.

Parallel importers keep their prices low by keeping their overheads low.

AD showrooms tend to be more posh and classy, thus projecting a professional image. Their showrooms are equipped with facilities like lounges and discussion areas.

PI showrooms tend to be smaller in scale with lesser facilities. However, many PI are expanding their scale of operation to match those of AD. Unlike AD, most PI do not allow test drive of their vehicles.
Warranty & Servicing

Most AD and PI offer free labour servicing. This means that the car owners do not have to pay for the labour cost during servicing, but they are chargeable for replacement of engine oil, filters, brakes, etc.

Both PI and AD provide warranty for the cars they sell. However, their warranty may cover different aspects.


AD usually have higher overhead cost than PI. Therefore, for the same car model, PI are usually cheaper than the AD.

Country of Production

Some of AD's car models are made in countries with lower operation cost such as Thailand and Malaysia. Two examples of such are Toyota and Honda. As technology and labour quality there are lower than other countries, there may be some compromises to the vehicles' workmanship.

PI, on the other hand, buy and import vehicles from the brand's country of origin. For example, parallel imported Honda, Mazda and Toyota vehicles will be made in Japan. Thus, the workmanship of these cars are better.

Car Model Choices

There are certain models that are sold by both PI and AD. However, there are some models that are only sold by the former and not the latter, and vice versa.

Availability of Spare Parts

AD are obliged to keep the spare parts of the vehicles even after the models have stopped production. Most PI do not offer such after-sale service. Therefore, when buying a car from AD, you can be rest assured that the spare parts of your vehicle will still be available 20 years down the road.

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