At a glance, I guess you could say that car buyers the world over all look for the same things in an automobile: comfort, elegance, affordability, stability… the list goes on and on. But I suppose there are some pretty good reasons why cars do not follow a single concept of production; and an even greater reason why some car models are more prevalent in Africa as compared to others.
So what exactly is it that the typical African buyer is looking in his machine? What makes him tick; what makes him drool? What’s his dream car; what’s his pride and joy when he awakes at dawn and looks at his fleet?
Africa may not be one big bush as many westerners tend to believe; but that’s not to say that our terrain is not different; all the same. Sadly, we have some of the poorest road networks in the world with many a paths being dry-weather rather than all-weather tarmac. Buyers are therefore looking for a vehicle that has the horsepower to surge through sticky mud and nearly-bottomless potholes. It is in the quest for this horsepower that we have come to develop a preference for 4-wheel drive vehicles.
Sufficient Ground Clearance
Super high-end cars are close to perfect; they have great aesthetics, good horsepower, ease of use; but the one major disadvantage that has seen them not gaining that much of a popularity in Africa is not the dear cost; but the fact that they lend to be a tad too low; for our African roads, at least. A vehicle with a low lift will keep scratching against the road when one approaches a speed bump or even encounters a pothole.
The underside of a car scratches enough times; the suspension system gets damaged, the vehicle starts leaking in water from below and it is just a matter of time before the expiry date of the automobile is reached. A car with sufficient ground elevation such as an SUV therefore becomes the vehicle of preference for Africans
Efficient Fuel Consumption
This may seem rather obvious but it is actually one of the things everyone has to inquire about before deciding upon purchasing a certain vehicle. As Africans, we need a car with a good enough capacity such that a full tank will get us to our rural home that is hundreds of kilometers away and probably even half the way back. An automobile whose fuel consumption rate will match up to its power provision without guzzling fuel; that’s what the African buyer is looking for.
We need a vehicle that will last a couple of years; all the while enduring daily use on rough terrain and under harsh weather conditions. A car that is strong enough to still have the chassis intact and above all, a car with readily-available spare parts in case of anything. Should a car part need replacing, we need to be assured that it can be done in the shortest time possible without me having to wait for the next shipment from Germany which might be arriving in the next month or so.