Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Nigerians Take Their Eyes Off Nollywood Movies To Buy Corollas By The Truckload

Matt Gasnier
by Matt Gasnier
best selling cars around the globe nigerians take their eyes off nollywood movies to

After Libya, Ivory Coast and Egypt, we are back in Africa this weekend to explore Nigeria.

The first thing you need to know about Nigeria is that it produces more films than Hollywood: around 200 movies every month! – most of them straight to video. So as an appetizer I couldn’t resist giving you a scene from ‘The Power of a Kiss’ (see above video). Notice the very posh Toyota FJ Runner and Honda Element towards the end…(the private US-to-Nigeria-car-import business is doing very well, thank you.)

Now if you don’t like waiting for hours in traffic, then Lagos, Nigeria is not for you, so I humbly suggest you explore one of 154 other countries I cover in my blog. I trust there will be one to suit your taste.

Nigeria is by far the most populous country in Africa at 155 million inhabitants but only 45,000 new cars changed hands in 2010. That’s the same amount sold in China in one day, but a slow, lazy, middle-of-the-week day, not a super-charged Saturday…

If I only had one word to summarize Nigeria it would be, wait for it, Toyota! But happily I have been allowed more than one word to describe this country. Thanks TTAC!

So Toyota.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Toyota has a stranglehold on Africa, and even though Hyundai/Kia and the Chinese are ramping up their efforts very significantly, the Japanese brand’s lead way is such that it will take a few years before it is genuinely threatened.

But first let’s go back to this paltry 45,000 yearly units figure. On the positive side, such a low number can be called ‘potential’… At 1 new car per year for 3,400 inhabitants, it has a very, very, very long way to go to reach even the current Chinese level (1 for 75), not to mention world champions Australia and Canada, both at 1 new car for 22 inhabitants.

On another positive side (yes there is more than one), it is double the amount sold 5 years ago, so it heading the right way.

Toyota holds one third of the Nigerian new car market, and the Toyota Corolla is the favorite car in the country. How do I know this I hear you ask? Well, given coming across official models ranking data for Nigeria is like trying to find a needle in the savannah, I have queried the help of my old but still very resourceful mate: YouTube.

And it doesn’t take long to notice on the crammed streets of Lagos, among various generations of VW Golf and Caravelle imported from Europe just when their owners were about to give them the chop, Toyotas Toyotas Toyotas everywhere. And among all those Toyotas, already a very significant amount of current generation Corollas, making me venture an estimated market share of 12 percent+ for the best-selling nameplate.

In the same vein, the Toyota Hilux…

…and Camry should form a 100% Toyota podium in my estimated Nigerian models ranking, with the Hiace van coming not far behind.

Like in most other parts of Africa, Hyundai and Kia follow Toyota in the Nigerian brands ranking, and as a result the Kia Rio

Hyundai Accent

Hyundai Elantra and Kia Cerato are strong sellers in Nigeria. Honda is the number 4 brand and its best-seller in the country is the Honda Civic followed by the Accord.

Peugeot has made its mark in the country even though Nigeria never was a French colony, and it assembles models that disappeared from its European catalog many years ago. The 1995 Peugeot 406 is still a strong seller there,

so is the 2001 Peugeot 307.

Now for the little bit of trivia that you’ve all been waiting for, that piece of information that will trigger ooohs and aaahs at those dinners. Nigeria has one of Africa’s lowest 4WD penetration: only 3 to 5% of new car sales belong to that category, which is in stark contrast with most other African countries. And the favorites in Nigeria are the Mitsubishi Pajero and Toyota Prado plus the one Toyota FJ Cruiser the formidable businesswoman Sherry bought in ‘The Power of a Kiss’…

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2 of 3 comments
  • Vvk Vvk on Jun 26, 2011

    Interesting country. 510 living languages!

  • M 1 M 1 on Jun 26, 2011

    My company sells metric assloads of Yotas into Africa. In some places -- many places -- the car of choice is completely dictated by the car chosen by the local tribal leader. Nissan saw a huge spike in popularity in Kenya (I think it was) last year when there was big change in the government and all the tribals suddenly switched to a particular minivan/wagon thing that Nissan sells (the AdVan), mostly in Japan. Two weeks later and you couldn't get them on a boat fast enough to satisfy the demand. A similar thing happened not too long go with the Toyota Probox, a much more minivan-like vehicle. That was Somalia, if memory serves. Crazy place. Ass-backwards in nearly every sense of the word.

  • Kcflyer Nice to see California giving NY some competition to be the worst run state in the union.
  • Wolfwagen I see my comment was deleted (BTW nice way to censor) so i will say it again:GTFO here with the pseudo "wealth distribution" BS. A crime is a crime is a crime.Its a slippery slope, what happens next, Jail a rich guy when he kills a pedestrian and let the poor guy who kills a pedestrian walk? What about if the poor guy is a crappy driver and has the record to prove it then what?Or we could go crazy and just institute the death penalty across the board for every driving infraction. That will make people better drivers or stop driving altogether which will make the greenies happy (damm it I just gave them an idea - SOB!!!)
  • Wolfwagen No. Bring back the J80 with an inline six and reduced electronics (i.e. no giant touch screen) and they will probably sell like hotcakes
  • David S. " test vehicles sometimes make sudden stops when uncertain about how to navigate traffic."??? Test vehicles are programmed by humans, HUMANS sometimes make sudden stops when uncertain about how to navigate traffic, Duh!!
  • Frank The last guy was doing fine, this is a sales emergency that they're hoping Tim can fix. They want to hang onto the crazy margins from the covid era, which now in the face of abundant inventory, insane interest rates and inflation are a long distant wet dream. Its time to start offering value again, cash on the hood and 0% financing. Move the metal!