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HomeAutomobile NewsHow America's Totaled Vehicles Drive Once more within the Third World

How America’s Totaled Vehicles Drive Once more within the Third World


Vehicles stranded in floodwater in the Bronx, NY, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Sept. 2, 2021.

Automobiles stranded in floodwater within the Bronx, NY, within the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Sept. 2, 2021.
Photograph: Craig Ruttle (AP)

What occurs to your automotive after it’s completeed? Most American automotive homeowners by no means actually discover out. The insurance coverage firm takes the broken automobile, cuts a examine, and for many of us, our consideration turns to discovering a alternative journey. NPR’s Planet Cash took a deep dive into the worldwide marketplace for salvage-title autos, and it’s an interesting learn for anyone who’s interested by the place good automobiles go after they die.

Reporter Scott Gurian obtained curious concerning the international commerce in cast-off American autos by way of a delightfully roundabout flip of occasions. Again in 2016, Gurian drove within the Mongol Rally, an 11,000-mile slog by means of 18 nations, from the UK to Mongolia. Gurian’s Nissan Micra broke down quite a few occasions throughout the 52-day journey, and thru considered one of these breakdowns, Gurian befriended a mechanic in Turkmenistan named Oraz.

Quick ahead to right this moment. Gurian is again at dwelling in New Jersey. Oraz sends him a message from Turkmenistan, displaying a curious automobile that confirmed up in his store: A 2021 Lexus RX350. Other than some small beauty harm, slightly rust, and a few wonky electronics, it gave the impression to be in wonderful situation and almost new. One factor caught Oraz’s eye — the New Jersey inspection sticker on the windshield.

You would possibly be capable of piece collectively a part of what occurred right here. The Lexus was flooded in New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in September 2021. The insurance coverage firm declared it a complete loss, and the automobile — now carrying a kiss-of-death salvage title — went to public sale.

Gurian and his fellow reporter Alexi Horowitz-Ghazi dove deep into the story to determine precisely what financial influences result in a salvage-title Lexus being exported from New Jersey all the best way to Turkmenistan — a straight-line distance of greater than 6,000 miles.

If you pay attention to the global car market, you probably have a grasp of the broader influences at play here: A salvage-branded title doesn’t essentially observe a automobile offered within the U.S. as soon as it heads to a different nation; in lots of elements of the world, it’s far cheaper to import and restore a broken automobile than it’s to purchase a brand new one regionally, even after you account for transport prices spanning an enormous chunk of the globe. For a sure sort of purchaser, a U.S.-market luxurious automobile is a really interesting standing image, even when it arrives with write-off-level harm.

The complete story takes a ton of surprising twists and turns. Planet Cash at all times weaves fascinating tales along with financial data you’d most likely by no means come throughout wherever else. Obtain the total 30-minute episode right here, and luxuriate in it in your subsequent commute. You’ll get a greater understanding of the second life many automobiles discover after they’re deserted by their American homeowners.


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