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Fuel price: Are SUVs disappearing from the roads?

By Theodore Opara

The increase in fuel pump price from N86.50k to N145 may have led to the gradual withdrawal of most big Sport Utility Vehicles, SUV from Nigerian roads, and drop in sales of such vehicles. Vanguard Motoring investigation revealed that most owners of such vehicles now drive them occasionally to save fuel, while some have put theirs up for sale. It is a common sight to see most SUVs with ‘for sale’ pasted on their glasses even when they are being driven on the road. Before the increase in fuel pump price, use of SUVs was the trend but with the high cost of fuel, people are beginning to think twice before putting the vehicles on the road on a daily basis.

Most people now prefer to put their SUVs on the road when travelling out of  their stations because of the state of the road, while using the small cars for movements within the city. For instance, while it costs about N8,000 to fill a tank of big SUV, before the fuel price increase, it now costs between N14,000 to N16,000 to fill such cars under the current fuel pricing. Even with the poor road condition caused by the rainy season, which was given as reasons for buying used SUVs in the past, a lot of people are beginning to overlook this even when acquiring their  used SUVs.

Air-condition system

What most people are now looking for are cars that can take them from one point to the other so long as the air-condition system is working. A visit to the popular used car market in Lagos, Berger Yard Tokunbo market, revealed that sales of big cars had dropped, occasioned by the hard times being experienced by Nigerians in the last one year. Though most of them wouldn’t like their names in print, they told Vanguard Motoring that selling cars these days has become very difficult as a result of the high cost of cars and fuel price.

“People hardly buy cars these days even when they do so, they consider fuel consumption first and reliability of such cars, unlike in the past when the first consideration was how beautiful the car looks and the engine capacity,” the car dealer stated. He added that this has made the Japanese-made cars the toast of many car buyers, especially Toyota, Honda and Nissan. Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen, though German products, are not doing badly too. According to another dealer, you can stay for a whole month before selling a car, unlike before when they used to sell up to six vehicles within the same period. Even when such cars are sold, they are sold at a loss.

“Tell me, how can you make profit when you buy cars from abroad with foreign exchange at N330 to a dollar, he queried. Meanwhile, some car owners who spoke to Vanguard Motoring lamented the high cost of fuel. Some of them explained that their SUVs are no longer everyday’s car as a result of the high cost of fuel. “Nowadays, I drive my ‘Jeep’ only on Sundays  to save fuel because I cannot afford to use it on daily basis again’’ said Mr. Adekunle Akintan, a business man who deals in men wares on Lagos Island.

According to him, he cannot afford the fuel, as the car gulps more fuel in traffic. His submission is that it costs as much as N15,000 to fill the tank of the Jeep which lasts only one week on daily use. This according to him means spending about N60,000 to fuel the ‘Jeep’ and if you add the same amount used to fuel generator, at home you are talking about N120,000 monthly on fuel alone. Others who spoke to Vanguard Motoring revealed that the solution lies on small fuel efficient cars but the question is where are the roads.

To some of them, using these small cars is fuel economical, but costlier on the long run as you would have to visit your mechanic and panel beater as regularly as possible. Consider the wear and tear on the small car due to bad road condition. You are either fixing your bumper, bolt joints, tie rods, shocks absorbers etc, due to poor condition of the roads



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