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Abuja Motor Fair: Creativity and style on display

Mojo, a fashion designer from Lagos, said he had come that far to appreciate and catch up with the latest trends in the automobile industry.…

Mojo, a fashion designer from Lagos, said he had come that far to appreciate and catch up with the latest trends in the automobile industry. “I love bigger cars like jeeps but I think so far here I love the Toyota Avensis 2009 model. It is sleek and trendy but I won’t possibly be buying because my cars are relatively new and cars are not like clothes that you change very often. The way people change clothes is not the same way they change cars.  And it is not everybody that is worthy to change cars every year. Still there are people that change cars every year and they could come here and pick anything of their choice. ”

As if he was speaking for everybody that came to the fair, pot-bellied, fleshy, well dressed men sauntered from one motor stand to another, admiring, appreciating, pricing, inspecting and marveling at the display of various classes of cars that distinguished themselves in style, beauty and class. The soul music that blasted from large speakers pervaded the Eagle Square with a calmness that was very unusual of a market place. The fair was devoid of the rowdiness of a market, rather, it was serene and solemn and prospective buyers moved around gracefully while sales persons approached them respectfully.  The hush that enveloped the fair was characteristic of a place where real, hard money is discussed.

According to Kunle Peter Alake, Senior Executive-Marketing of Toyota (Nigeria) Limited, the automobile industry is trendy because “the society gets civilized every day, the society evolves every day, so the taste of the customer continues to improve every day therefore, in order to match the expectation of our customers, in terms of sophisticated products, we need to continue to bring in new products in order to make them happy.”

He said though the auto business appears fashionable, the changes in models do not come so often. “If you look at the old generation Avensis, I think it has been in the market for a minimum of three years now.  And the people that buy these vehicles are the elite class. The people who are trendy, people who want to use the latest of things, people whose taste and consciousness for quality continue to grow everyday so you don’t expect people like that to use a vehicle for as long as five, six, seven years before they want to change it. Just as you change your wardrobe from time to time, so do they change their garage in a minimum of two to three years.  And if you are found wanting in terms of vehicles that are modern, that reflect the latest technology in the society, then you are likely to lose your customers.”

He also said it is not always that a model change comes about because auto manufacturer wants to satisfy customers. “There are times that the need arises to make a vehicle as good as it is to be better,” he said. He explained that even within the same car model there are variants. He said the 2009 New Generation Avensis has three classes and each class has its own price while the latest Land Cruiser has two variants with different prices each. For instance, the 2.0 litre engine Avensis comes in three versions: the automatic leather seats, the automatic fabric seats and the manual fabric seats. “The automatic leather seats is top of the range and it goes for N4.95 million, while the automatic fabric seat is N4.6 million and manual fabric is N4.2 million,” he explained.

Mr. Alake added that each model of vehicle has its own grade and its own class of customers. He said vehicles like Land Cruiser Jeeps are built for people in command and control. “It is for the very upper most class of the society. Like you can see the price, N14.5 million, it is not a vehicle for every body.” He said there was price reduction on some of the vehicles on display at the fair. “To a large extent we have price reduction on some of the vehicles. The Yaris Automatic Alloyed Wheels is one of them. Outside the fair, it is N3.2 million but at the fair, it is N2.9 million.” And he described sales as wonderful as they had almost surpassed their sales expectations.

But people were seen moving about as if they were tourists who were only concerned with feasting their eyes on the aesthetics of vehicles rather than buying.  And all of them recorded their names in the registers of every motor stand they visited and it was really a spectacular, tourist attraction.