Meet the expat auto expert Autociel is THE address for expats and the international community when it comes to cars.

Hello Switzerland met Markus Häfeli, owner of Autociel, to find out more about why his dealership is the right address for expats and the international community.

Hi Markus. Tell us about your background.

I'm from eastern Switzerland but I've lived in Lausanne for 17 years. I studied business economics and used to work in Zurich transporting gold and money. Quite a Swiss job! (laughs) And I founded Autociel in 2002.

What is Autociel?

Autociel means "Car Heaven". We're an independent car dealership specialised in the expat market. We sell cars of all brands throughout Switzerland and we advise people on importing their cars from all over the world.

How does Autociel differ from other Swiss car dealerships?

Our business is helping expats find the best car at the best price. We can source many cars at prices lower than the Swiss norm thanks to our extensive European import network. So because we are independent and we have the best network, we can often find the best conditions.

What does being a car dealer for expats involve?

It takes 5 to 6 times longer to sell a car to an expat than to a Swiss! It means customer service by phone and email, which saves people time and visits to the garage. They have lots of other things to take care of during their relocation, so that's important. We often work in English, including contracts and documentation. We're experts in the complexities of international sourcing, importing, and tax-free deals (when the car is a moving good). During consultation we provide our clients with 4 to 6 suggestions of cars that fit their needs. We include unique information relevant to expats, such as the re-sale value or leasing options tailored for expats. While it's no problem for B-permit holders to obtain leasing, it's normally difficult for newly-arrived expats to obtain leasing. We can help - Autociel can even make leasing possible for buyers only holding an L permit.

Why and when would someone import a car from the US to Switzerland?

Some people simply enjoy the familiarity of having their own car in their new country. For others, it may work out to be financially beneficial. The earlier we begin working with a client the better. Recently, an American gentleman coming to work in Basel in September contacted us in January – perfect! In that case, we explained that if he bought and took receipt of a car in the US more than 6 months before the starting date on his Swiss work permit, the car would qualify as part of his moving goods and he wouldn't pay the 8% VAT and 4% import duty. Despite the shipping costs he saved CHF 25,000! That's the Autociel difference.

Author: Mike Tomsett - Hello Switzerland

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