You should not purchase a car on a whim. If you have ever gone to the phone shop, purchased a mobile phone that appealed to you, only to get home and find that it did not meet your needs? Now imagine it was a major purchase like a car.
Mr. Ufuoma Umukoro, Divisional General Manager, Coscharis Motors Ltd, had this to say about the considerations you should have at the back of your mind when you walk into a car dealer’s show room. “Identify what you like and what you dislike about your current car. With that you would know the things you want to see in your new car and the things you don’t want to see.”
He said: “Another factor is the purpose of the car. What do you need this car for? It could be practical, it could be luxury, it could be leisure and fun, or it could be utility. Knowing this would also help you determine the kind of car to go for in the market. For instance if it is a practical car you need and you live in a flood-prone location, you would be very dissatisfied if you got a saloon car because when the rains and mud come around you would ask yourself; What did I do? You need to evaluate what you want to use the car for, where you want to use the car and what function the car would be serving. With that you can define the philosophy of what you want to do.”
The truth is that people find it hard being rational about their choice of cars but we all have to face the reality of our specific needs. Mr. Duke Epkeyong, Group General Manager Sales, Coscharis Motors Ltd agrees saying that the purpose you require the car for is a major consideration “But there are certain things that override some of this. The emotional factor is critical so is the environment; the terrain. A lot of people have decided to go for the SUV, not because they love it but because of our roads, because of floods, or the sand. These are factors that actually drive you.
Someone came here the other day and said that he was in love with the Jaguar SG. You know; highly beautiful car: functional, luxurious, but he says he can’t buy it. I asked why and he says he stays in Park View and that the flood in that place is unthinkable and he can’t think of putting a Jaguar there. So even though he had fallen in love with that car and really thought that it was something he loves; he really had to step back because of those considerations.”
How much ‘emotional flow’ can we permit to ensure that we buy the right car?
Umukoro says: “A purchase is always 65% emotions and 45% rationality. Emotions must and will come to play, because at the end of the day you must like your car. The reason for buying a car is for land transportation and any car would do that for you, but you also want your car to reflect your personality and style and people tend to connect with different luxury brands. It is 65:45 that is the way it has always been and that is the way it is always going to be. So several factors influence every purchase and what we strive for is to ensure that what you buy fits the idea you have at the back of your mind so that there is no post-purchase dissonance.
The romance with your car could very well outlast your relationship with a girl friend or boyfriend. So that other than your marriage it is your longest relationship and you want to look out of the window every morning to see a car that pleases you. Especially considering the amount of money you have spent on it. If it is the wrong car you are going to be stuck with it for a very long time. It is like being married to the wrong person.
In addition to that, Epkeyong had this to say: “Take for instance a young man has been saving for his first car and desires a particular brand which he learnt would cost N1m but after saving up the money he finds that the car actually costs N1.4m. he has two options: To go back and continue saving or to find another brand that falls within his budget.
If he is going for the second option, he still has to find a car that he can love even though it was not his dream car because he would be using that car for a long time.”
According to Epkeyong, these are the question you should ask yourself before you buy your next car. They are the questions he would be asking you.
“What do want to do with the car?
What other cars do you have?
Why do you not want to buy an upgraded version of what you currently have?
What do you dislike about your current car (s)?
What do you like in cars generally? Do you like speed? Do you like space?
These are some of the initial questions you would ask the customer to help guide the customer.”
Every car has an element of every function in it. But each car leans towards certain functions more than certain other functions. There is no car that can be tagged as ‘all-round’ and there is no car that can be tagged as strictly for one use alone. So if you seek an all-round car for every purpose, you would find that every car is an all-round car depending on what your needs are. Umukoro said: “The truth of the matter is that even the luxury cars can be practical even though they are high maintenance. People also drive sports cars for pleasure. What you set out to do defines what you would buy. So if you stay in a sandy area and you might need a functional but luxurious car. You should get a 4X4, if you went out to get a saloon car, you will be disappointed.
Every buying decision carries all the other factors at various degrees. There is no purchase that is strictly for one use. It is always about how much one factor would influence how heavily you would want the properties of the car lean on certain attributes.”
However, if you are buying the car as a gift is another matter. “Those cases are easier. We have cases of men buying cars for spouses and girlfriends and the lady has little or no input in the purchases. A lot of time it is about; ‘this is an expensive car and I want to impress”, he said.
“Buying a car for a political associate would require looking at the person’s fleet of cars to discover what the person leans towards so you can get an upgraded version or what he doesn’t have yet so you can get that for him. Perhaps you would be looking at the top echelon of vehicles to get for him. You also want to look at the trend; what are people of the same class riding. Also since you are trying to make an impression you would also be looking at how you want him to regard you via the calibre of your gift.”
As for buying vehicles for staff he said: “Even when companies buy vehicles for staff, they need to bear in mind that there are different categories of staff. So the considerations for the managers are different from the considerations for the sales executives. If it is for the sales executives, then you would be looking at durability, ruggedness, strength, and low maintenance costs.
For the top level managers you would be looking at the company’s image; making the right impression. When people see the kind of vehicles your top level staff ride in, it makes a statement.”
Nigerians have been labelled as people who love to show off and they would buy a car just for that. Umukoro disagrees saying; “I doubt that. I think it is about style. People express their style with the cars they buy. Just like the clothes they wear.”
In addition to that, here is Umukoro’s take on the current thirst for used cars?
He said: “People do things and you wonder why. We really need to ask ourselves as a people: ‘What are our values?’ is it: used, used, used. ‘Used’ to me is a walk in the dark. You have no service history. You don’t know how or where the car was used. You don’t know if it is a bio-hazard car that was sold out because it was beginning to get toxic; the interior plastics were is integrating. You don’t know whether you are assimilating cancer, you don’t know what you are doing. If it is working for you and you are still alive then you can continue but is a negative mentality. There is nothing like buying a new product, no matter how you look at it. ‘Used’ in its best state is only second best. Why settle for second when the first is available? You want silver instead of gold? Why? It beats me.”
As for importing your car yourself, he said: “I suppose it makes them happy to do that. But why would you go through all that trouble to buy a car that was built for another country; not the country you intend to use it in? If you buy a car that is made for the US for instance you would have problems with the fuel because the US uses unleaded fuel, but we use leaded fuel. In the US, cars use RON 95 and above, here we use RON 88 there are so many differences that you start to experience immediate discomfort. It is inferiority complex that makes people think a car brought in from the US (yourself) is better than the one bought here; both cars were made by the same company in the same place.
It is one of things people do that makes you wonder. You try to change people’s perception and help them see but if they insist on importing the cars themselves they would do just that.
But how would you import a car from the US and ask for a warranty in Nigeria? The belief is that it is cheaper, because they don’t pay duties like a company would. However when you take away all the benefits, it is really; penny wise, pound foolish.”
The duo of Epkeyong and Umukoro have seen just about every snazzy automobile in this hemisphere so what is their favourite ‘wheels on steel’?
Epkeyong: Laughs “My personal favourite is actually the Discovery 4 Landrover”
Umukoro: “Discovery 4. It’s my dream car.”
Is there any particular reason?
Epkeyong and Umukoro: 100% emotional.