“Used vehicles do break down more often,” says Sackey, “and that increases the demand for spare parts.”
Want more? Enjoy a free subscription to Aftermarket Business World magazine to get the latest news in the automotive aftermarket industry. Click here to start your subscription today.
The situation is further exacerbated by the punishment dished out by the jarring roads upon which most vehicles travel. Roughly the size of Oregon, Ghana has about 68,000 miles of roadway, and nearly 60,000 miles of them remain unpaved.
“The conditions of roads in Ghana are not up to standard,” Sackey says. “Most roads in Ghana are full of pot holes that are very dangerous for road users and pedestrians, and it causes a lot of breakdowns of vehicles.” A large number of speedbumps – installed because many drivers exceed speed limits, fail to obey stop signs and disregard other traffic regulations – is a further cause of vehicle damage.
“The nature of the Ghanaian terrain requires extra protection,” according to GhanaWeb columnist Bonus Williams. “Made-for-Ghana vehicles thus come equipped with a rough road/severe usage package like reinforced suspensions, a suitable vehicle ground clearance, heavy duty shock absorbers and reinforced bushings. Vehicles for European markets do not have these additional features. Many vehicles not meant for our environment are being imported.”
Williams observes that “instead of desired values, users have to grapple with increasing stress levels involved in the usage of the used imported cars. Due to the quality of these used imports, the maintenance cost is usually very high, thereby creating financial nightmares for users. And a disturbing aspect is the distrust which customers develop for the genuine brand holders, thereby affecting the economic fortunes of the authentic auto brand builders.”
“Vehicles that survive for long periods of time on our roads are mostly 4x4 vehicles and vehicles that have high clearance from the ground,” says Sackey. Close to 70 percent of the used vehicles are imports sourced by non-OEM-connected dealers through Europe, the U.S. and Canada.
“Ghanaians prefer vehicles with American specifications,” he says, but an acutely desired trait – often sought in vain by used vehicle buyers on tight budgets – is rugged-road reliability.
The most common used models purchased in Ghana, according to Sackey, are the Toyota Corolla, Chevrolet Cruze, Pontiac Vibe, Toyota Matrix, Toyota Camry, Toyota Highlander, Hyundai Sonata, Hyundai Elantra, Hyundai Accent, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Bongo, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Mercedes C Class, Nissan Pathfinder, Nissan Sentra, Nissan March and the Kia Sportage. Vehicles from the old Soviet Union also have a presence.