By Odunewu Segun
Nigeria remains the most sought after for manufacturers because of its huge market potentials but the lack of infrastructures has always been the bane. In the automotive sector, between 2014 and 2015, over 60,651 new vehicles were legally imported while more were brought in through the grey market.
The breakdown shows that 45,618 new cars were brought in while the statistics for fully built cars import for 2015 was a meager 15,031. However, despite the 67 per cent decrease occasioned by the implementation of the new automotive policy that increases tariffs on fully built vehicles importation, some traditional auto brands still maintained their presence in 2015.
Toyota still maintained the lead, accounting for almost half of the vehicle import for 2015 as well the most popular brand of vehicle on the road. The best sellers include the Hilux, which is the top selling car in 30 African countries and the Corolla. Motorists love this brand because it is relatively affordable, durable, easy to maintain and can be sold off for a profitable price after being used. Regular upgrades, better features and motor components also make this brand popular among motorists.
The Kia brand has come a long way, improving steadily on its design and engine capacity over time. According to car website Carmudi, the Korean brand KIA is one of the most popular brands in Nigeria and is mostly used for official vehicles because of its affordability and fuel conservation. The brand is also popular for its regular model upgrades, better features and motor components. Following the Rio and Picanto models, the Kia Sportage is a popular choice among SUV motorists in Nigeria, Ghana and Egypt.
It is in recognition of this that the vehicle was awarded the Car of the Year crown at the 2015 Nigerian Auto Journalists Awards ceremony.
Hyundai is another South Korean brand that enjoys more patronage from Nigerians because of its designs and affordability. According to reports, Hyundai outsells Toyota in four major African markets, namely Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Angola. The i10 series has been vastly popular in Angola, with the 2003 Verna being popular in Egypt.
Nissan and Renault have been pushed to the background in recent times in the Nigerian auto scene because of the inefficiency of past handlers of the brands in the country. For Nissan, it was quite a tale of woes under former handlers, Alliance Autos until the franchise was acquired by Stallion Motors under the company of Stallion Nissan Motor Nigeria.
It was the same tales of woes for the Renault brand which incidentally was also mismanaged by Alliance Autos Nigeria Ltd before Dana Motors and Services Ltd acquired the franchise. However, while Nissan is enjoying huge investment under Stallion to reposition the brand, Renault has remained in abeyance.
In the luxury segment, Mercedes-Benz still remains the brand to beat with its evolutionary designs. Some of the popular models include C-Class, SUV ML63 AMG and the G-wagon. The brand is loved for its durability, sleek design and its association to wealth. Buyers included government officials, businessmen and senior corporate executives.
The Range Rover is another popular SUV brand that makes waves in 2015, Not only can it drive well in rugged terrain and is great for safaris, it is also a symbol of affluence for motorists. The Range Rover Evoque has gained much popularity with the younger customer base, it used Nigerian actress Genevieve Nnaji as the ambassador for the Evoque to increase its appeal to a younger customer base that hadn’t driven a Range Rover before.
0ne of the brand’s popular model in the country is the Evoque, a sleek, sporty-looking model that is smaller than other Range Rovers, suitable for city driving, but still copes well off road, an increasingly important factor for cars to sell well in Africa.
Other auto brands that dominate the scene, especially the luxury segment include Porsche and BMW. Porsche still remains a car for the crème de la crème of the society, but it is still visible on the road, especially the Porsche Cayenne.
BMW combined ruggedness with class. It is the top selling luxury vehicle in South Africa for the year 2014 for a 5th consecutive year. In Nigeria, it is the vehicle for top government functionaries as well top Executives and Chairmen of Corporations.