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Toyota, Ford, Mitsubishi, others, renew rivalry for over N1.6b truck market

By Benjamin Alade
27 January 2023   |   4:41 am
Of modern hilux or pickup vehicles in the global automotive industry, there is no limit to the variety of brands and patronage. Traditionally, they are big and rugged light trucks designed to undergo rigorous tasks such as off-road trips and hard-to-reach terrains.

Utility vehicles that combine ‘high’ and ‘luxury’ otherwise called ‘hilux’, are making more waves than usual in the local automotive sector. BENJAMIN ALADE examines features that endear Nigerian users to leading brands.

Of modern hilux or pickup vehicles in the global automotive industry, there is no limit to the variety of brands and patronage. Traditionally, they are big and rugged light trucks designed to undergo rigorous tasks such as off-road trips and hard-to-reach terrains. The modern clincher has been the luxury and comfort they provide onboard passengers – to sustain frequency of usage in good terrains.

Brands like Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi L200, Nissan Navara, Changan Hunter, JAC T6 and Mikano Maxus T60, are available in the market.

According to Statista Research and Analysis, the pickup trucks market segment in Nigeria is projected to grow by 5.47 per cent (2022-2026), resulting in a market volume of €3.65m in 2026. Revenue in the pickup trucks market segment is projected to reach $3.49m (N1.61b) this year alone.

Besides price disparities, there are other features that appeal to different categories of customers and their attendant popularities on the road.

Toyota Hilux
The automobile market has, as expected, embraced this Toyota brand, thanks to its dynamism in usage and general flexibility. While it blends comfortably as a family car with its 4 by 4 setting, its powerful and strong features rank it as one of the toughest mass-produced machinery, making it adaptable to any condition and operation.

In Nigeria, the price you will get a brand new Toyota Hilux is heavily dependent on external factors that include custom clearance and tariff fees. Also, the currency exchange rate at the moment of purchase plays a major part in determining the eventual price of a brand new Toyota Hilux in Nigeria.

On the average, a brand new Toyota Hilux costs between N24 million and N25 million – subject to the model of choice and distributor. Although Toyota Hilux is topnotch, there is still a need to manage expectations. The ladder frame-leaf spring combination in latest models of the vehicle reduces its sleekness on the road. Although not exactly sloppy, the double wishbone front end is classless, lifeless and vague.

Although most pick-up models in its class don’t have great fuel economy, you would expect the Toyota Hilux to do better. It’s not too fuel mileage friendly, which is an issue Toyota will have to work on.

Besides, the Nigerian military and paramilitary forces, have for years, had interest in this pickup truck. Companies, security agencies also make use of the Hilux.

Recently in the United States of America, the brand was banned due to technical issues. However, it is technically possible to import a Toyota Hilux to the U.S today, but it comes at a great price. Due to a tax policy imposed by the American government called the Chicken Tax, importing a light truck built outside the U.S. requires a 25 per cent tariff. This 25 per cent jump in the cost makes the Hilux too expensive to compete with other compact pickup trucks in the U.S. Market.

Ford Ranger
The Ford Ranger is a pickup truck produced by Ford and marketed by its accredited dealer, Coscharis Motors. Like the Hilux, the Ranger is available as a bare-bones single cab or extended cab, or as a double cab, with load bay length decreasing as the passenger compartment grows. Engines are now all four-cylinder, 2.0-litre turbo diesels of up to 210bhp, with a choice of manual or automatic gearboxes. With the new version, V6 petrol will be offered too.

The Ranger doesn’t offer the material cabin appeal of some alternatives, but it has a comfortable driving position, decent mechanical refinement, and a relatively settled and compliant on-road ride, with harmoniously weighted and well-tuned controls that make for impressively intuitive drivability.

Based on an updated version of the old Ranger platform and with development assistance from Volkswagen, the Ranger should be sharper and more grown-up to drive. There’s also the option of a plug-in hybrid for the first time, while the high-performance Raptor model returns, this time with the option of a 284bhp twin-turbo V6 petrol. As before, there will be single- and double-cab variants, while the interior is far more upmarket, helped in part by the addition of Ford’s slick Sync 4 infotainment system.

The Ford Ranger has surpassed mid-size trucks from Nissan, and Chevy to become the second-cheapest truck on the market as a result of some pricing and equipment. Although this pickup has got a number of major rivals including Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi L200 and Toyota Hilux, this vehicle stands at the top due to its high quality ride and amenities. It is currently surviving in the third generation, which has been sold in huge quantities worldwide under the nameplate of Ford.

There is no way you will count trucks that dominate the Nigerian roads and not include the Ford Ranger. The Ranger costs about N17 million to N19 million. In some Rangers however, the crankshaft sensor has an intermittent failure that could cause major problems. The position of the crankshaft and/or its rotational speed (RPM) is determined by the crankshaft position sensor. The information sent by the sensor is used by the Engine Manage Unit (ECU) to control the timing of fuel injection.

Also another problem that has been reported by several owners and users is the rear seat back latch. In some cases, the latch may not engage properly, making it difficult to close the seatback. In other cases, the latch may become completely dislodged, making it impossible to close the seatback at all.

Mitsubishi L200
The Mitsubishi L200 is a compact pickup truck produced by Mitsubishi Motors. The Mitsubishi L200 pickup gained popularity through its constant evolution in the last 40 years, thanks to its driving dynamics, running costs, standard kit and attractive prices.

The enhanced rugged exterior features and advanced safety features are prominent inclusions in the vehicle, which come in three variants: single/double cabins 4×2 and double cabin 4×4 powered by 2.4 litre engine.

The all-new L200 has been developed to be the “Ultimate Sport Utility Truck,” combining the comfortable interior of a passenger car with the functionality and reliability of a pickup.

The L200 is used as a utility vehicle in a wide variety of applications such as construction sites, Fast Moving Consumer Goods distribution, oil field sites, among others. Drinks and beverage companies make use of this pickup truck the most.

Although users said it is a little heavy on fuel it is extremely reliable and practical and very effective in adverse weather, which was the main reason for purchase. It is also very comfortable and has a feel of luxury.

Also, L200 leaf springs are known to crack if the owner regularly carries heavy loads or tows heavy trailers and is usually signalled by a regular knocking sound coming from either of the rear wheels. Fixing it can be expensive.

The Mitsubishi L200 is designed for tough terrain. It has a switchable 4WD that can be engaged on the go. It has been the workhorse pickup and its maximum payload can go up to 1080kg.

Although depending on the dealership in Nigeria, the price of L200 varies. But an average price goes for about N12 million to N18 million depending on the year it was produced.

Aside from these three variants, there are other pick-ups doing well in the Nigerian market with patronage from users across all spheres. Director, Helme International Enterprise, Endurance Ewone, said all the brands have their uniqueness depending on the usage, maintenance and the terrain.

Ewone said: “Ford Ranger is an American spec; people don’t often use it like that maybe because the cost of maintenance and spare parts are not too common. (Toyota) Hilux is generally accepted by all because of its strength and it is rugged because maintenance is okay and parts are available; the same with Mitsubishi L200. I prefer the Hilux and Mitsubishi L200 to Ford Ranger,” he said.

A contractor, Uche Chukwu, however, said that the Ford Ranger is better. “If you own a new automatic Hilux you know that the stop and start are a nightmare. When you slow down to go over bumps then accelerate again the gearbox remains in neutral and it revs out. You can literally rev it for a few seconds before the gear engages,” he said.

A commercial user, Henry Gbadamosi, who has driven both the Toyota Hilux and Ranger, said: “I am going with the Ford Ranger. For me it drives better than the Hilux, handling on gravel roads is much better than the Hilux.”

A pickup driver, Kehinde Adesina, said the Hilux and Mitsubishi L200 are most common in Nigeria given the fact that Ford Ranger is an American spec. Adesina said both pickups have their different uniqueness but pricing and company’s decision determine the purchase of any of the pickups.

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