What Do We Look Out For In A Car?
With the range of auto brands in the Nigerian market, consumers cannot be said to be short of choice. But from a public opinion survey conducted by WorldStage Newsonline, there seems to be some level of agreement that majority of car users are going for the easy-to-maintain brands.
The consensus is that a good vehicle is expected to come with the necessary operational options that guarantee comfort and safety. This is outside the engineering designs that help to shape individual taste, most especially among the luxury class.
Popular reactions from the public opinion sampling can be summed up in the comment made by Mr Lekan Akeem of Agindingbi Auto Village, Lagos on what should be considered in patronizing a particular auto brand.
According to him, “In Nigeria today, it is about maintenance, and this has to do with fuel consumption, spare parts availability and cost. Also in buying a car, you must look at the re-sell value. We have one or two brands that there is always market for them. This means that you can still sell them for a very good price as second hand; which is why they enjoy higher patronage than the others.”
On the choice between new and used car, a popular dealer, Abiodun Odunjo of Autograph Nigeria explained that Nigeria is a peculiar market considering the low income level of the majority.
According to him, if possible, everybody will want to buy a brand new car, but there is the budget constraint.
“Everybody who buys a car has a specific budget range in mind, and with that constraint most often you can only get so few new cars, but for the same budget you get far better used cars,” he said.
“Sure it may not be the latest model, but it was the best in its time. We don’t have to follow the manufacturer's timeline, bearing in mind that a well maintained car can last 10 to 15 years before minor damage that will need minor attention.”
From a comparative point of view, the advantages of a brand new car cannot be over emphasised. These among others include; warranty that comes with the product, safety, higher fuel efficiency and lower emissions, maintenance (given that some new cars, mainly those from luxury marquees include free scheduled maintenance for a certain amount of time or mileage).
Most people do not want to dwell much on the debate between new and used cars, to the average Nigerian prospective car owner, it is about your budget and the brand that meets your taste. And from our public survey, it is obvious that the leading auto brand in the Nigeria market today is the Toyota brand, a Japanese product.
This position is also in agreement with a report earlier in the year by Alan Tovey, Industry Editor, The Telegraph, UK, on the highest selling auto brand in the world.
He revealed that, “Toyota has retained the crown as the world’s biggest selling auto company for a third year, with annual sales of 10.23m vehicles.”
The users were said to have stated the reasons for their choice of the brand among other things to include; good on fuel, ease of maintenance, good mileage, availability of spare parts, durability of engine and many more.
They however questioned the brand’s engineering design policy. From sampled reactions, Toyota is said to be inconsistent in their designs, which tend to reduce market appreciation for previous model. This is believed to rubbish pride of ownership when you have to come up with new designs at very short intervals.
The common Toyota brand’s models in Nigeria are Camry, Corolla, Hilux, Prado, Land Cruise, Avensis, Yaris among others. There are also models from its subsidiaries like the luxury version of Toyota, Lexus and the hip brand, Scion.
This is closely followed by the Honda brand, another Japanese product. The brand was also praised for producing cost effective cars. Some identified models include; Civic, Accord, Pilot among others. It also has a luxury subsidiary called Acura. It was however noted that the parts are more expensive and relatively scarce when compared with the Toyota brand.
Hyundai and Kia; these South Korean companies are the more recent names in the Nigerian market, they are known for their style of engineering design. They have good fuel economy and enjoy relative affordability in the market. However, there were reservations on the re-sell (Second Hand) value of their products compare to brands like Toyota and Honda.
Another brand that enjoys good patronage in Nigeria from the survey is Mercedes-Benz. Consumers were able to identify with its durability and engine performance. The brand is generally perceived as a product of class, or more of a celebrity car. There were however reservations on the ability of majority to cope with the cost of spare parts and its fuel consumption level.
The Peugeot brand is being manufactured by Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Limited. The brand used to be a household name in the country up to the 1990(s), then official Nigeria automobile. Known for its ruggedness and affordability, it lost the market at a point, due to economic downturn. It then had to compete with the relatively cheaper imported used and affordable new car brands, which have affected its market turnover. Public survey revealed that like other brands today, it has improved in its fuel efficiency which was a major issue before.
Other brands competing for attention in the Nigerian market include; Nissan which was identified as another fast growing auto brand in Nigeria. Some of their brands include Murano, Pathfinder, Xterra among others.
Volkswagen was credited for its durability. Some of the brands identified include; Beetle available decades ago, Bug (an upgraded version of Beetle), CC, Passat, Bugatti, Audi, Bentley, Lambo, among others.
BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke) which means Bavarian Motor Works in English, like the other German products, is a brand known for its durability. It is also noted for high engine performance and safety. However, spare parts availability and fuel consumption were highlighted as key issues.
Land Rover, now owned by Indian Tata motors has been in existence since 1978 but fully invaded the country like six years ago with the Range Rover Sports. Known for their traction, they are comfortable on the Nigerian road too.
Ford and General Motors (particularly Chevrolet) are the major American brands in Nigeria. They are perceived to be highly sophisticated, however there are complains about maintenance due to spare parts cost and availability.