The same vehicles are sold at different prices in different countries. The manufacturers use the purchasing power of the customers in the different countries. Also, the currency rate and the taxes influence the purchase price of vehicles.
Instead of buying the favoured car from a garage (which gets the vehicle from the official importer), it can also be purchased directly abroad (=direct import). According to the Touring Club Switzerland (TCS) such a direct import is only worthwhile for a price difference from at least CHF 3,000. Often, the imported vehicles from abroad are made for average taste, i.e. the customer cannot have a customised version. Also, the purchase of a second-hand car is not possible when buying abroad.
Vehicles can either be imported from Europe or from the USA. The following differences should be considered:
Price comparison: a price comparison in the US is very difficult, as there is no uniform pricing policy, often fees are added or the difference in value of the various options are quite elusive. In Europe, however, a comparison is significantly easier, as even the European Commission supports such a comparison („car price report“).
Conversion: since Switzerland has mostly taken over the EU regulations concerning vehicle construction, most EU vehicles can be imported and registered without any problems. Vehicles imported from the US usually need to be converted in order to be matriculated in Switzerland.
Manufacturer’s restrictions: the manufacturers in the US introduced restrictions in order to allow only second-hand cars to be sold to persons without residency in the US (new cars are not allowed, or only a small amount). Such a regulation does not exist for Europe.
Guarantees: factury warranty is valid for 24 months in the whole of Europe. In the case of directly imported cars, however, purchasers usually have to miss out on goodwill, assistance services and service packages customized for Switzerland.
If you import the car into Switzerland yourself, you need to register it unrequested for customs clearance and provide all important documents (bill or purchase contract with or without value added tax VAT, vehicle registration document, maybe EUR-1 document as proof of origin necessary). You also need an export declaration and an import declaration; the Swiss customs create a report. When importing a vehicle, tariff rates (CHF 12-15 per 100 kg), vehicle tax (4 % of vehicle value) and value added tax VAT (plus tariff rates and vehicle tax) have to be paid. Per person and year, only one directly imported vehicle is allowed into Switzerland.