Worries as car battery prices surge
Salaudeen Adewale, a Lagos-based banker drives a 2010 Toyota Landcruiser Jeep. In June, he travelled with it to Kwara State for a social event, in the company of his family members.
On checking into a hotel, where they were to spend the night, Adewale and other family members failed to notice that their youngest son left the car’s inner lights on.
Being parked in the hotel’s well-illuminated parking lot, far away from the hotel building, security guards also failed to notice that the lights were on all through the night.
By daybreak, the battery had run down. Charging it was a distant prospect considering the fact that they were running behind time for the event. Consequently, he settled for a new battery.
“I got the shock of my life when I dashed into town to get a new battery. At the first battery shop, I was told a 75 amps battery goes for N32, 000. After running around for about 30 minutes, I settled for one at the rate of N30, 000. I had never bought a car battery that expensive all my life,” Adewale recalled.
Like Adewale, Nnadozi Emeka is also at a loss as to why car battery prices are hitting the rooftop.
“The last time I bought a car battery, that is slightly over two years ago, it went for 14, 000, but now I hear that some are over N20, 000, while others are over N30, 000, and there is nothing we can do about it since we are just a consuming economy.
The duo are not the only ones that are bothered by the soaring cost of car batteries, most other motorists are, considering the fragile nature of the country’s economy.
Among them is Taiwo Salako, a Lagos-based motorist, who said the hike in the price of car batteries is impacting the finances of many a car owner, the reason he has switched to fairly used batteries.
“In the past, I had no problems buying brand new batteries for my car, whenever the need arose, but now, things have changed because of the poor state of the country’s economy. As a result of this, I struggle to buy the fairly used ones, popularly referred to as “tokunbo.”
Same applies to Tunde Bright, who never thought that he would be pushed to settle for fairly used batteries.
“I always bragged that I would never buy any fairly used battery for my car, but the last two that I have bought have been fairly-used ones. In fact, it was even my mechanic that advised me to go that way since I did not have the money for a new battery. He went ahead to direct me to a supplier, who he said sold the ones that were very reliable since using the so-called tokunbo battery is a game of luck.
This rising cost of battery has left battery sellers agonising, as sales has drastically dropped, thereby bringing about a lull in their business.
A female battery seller in the Ikeja area of Lagos, who pleaded said she was daily frustrated when her customers abandon her wares in preference for fairly used ones that are cheaper.
“Customers are complaining that things are expensive. New batteries cost about N13, 000 a few years ago, but that is not the case now. Now, batteries go for N21, 000 up to about N30, 000, depending on the location. Being this expensive notwithstanding, some new batteries still end up failing after just about eight to 10 months. This adds to the reason that some motorists simply settle for the fairly used ones some of which last for up to three years.
Another dealer, who has been badly affected by the surge in battery price is Iberedem Udoh, of Jimms Battery Expert, in the Olowu area of Lagos.
According to Udoh, the dramatic jump in the battery price has to do with the general increase in cost of living that is prevalent in the country.
“The high cost of car battery is not something that is rising alone in the country. As you would have observed, the price of things as little as body cream has skyrocketed. Same thing applies to car batteries, which we were selling for as low as N10, 000 only a few years ago, but which has now gone up to N25,000 and in some places N30,000 now.
“Like most other businesses, things started getting worse for battery business as the exchange rate of the dollar to naira soared to over N500/a dollar. Since all car batteries in the country are imported, the high exchange rate of course affected their prices. Right now, the few customers that still want to go for brand new batteries are complaining about the new price regime.
Udoh also revealed that the surge in price has led some dubious retailers to manipulate the labels of some product with the aim of deceiving unsuspecting buyers.
“As we all know, batteries come in different sizes for different classes of vehicles, and the prices also depend on the sizes. So, these dubious retailers after buying, for instance, a 60 amps battery from an importer, take off the label, print another one, which gives the impression that the battery is 75 amps for example. They, thereafter go ahead to sell the battery for a higher amount. Of course, this would not serve the buyer well, as the car would never perform at maximum efficiency, but the criminally-minded seller has made some money selling the wrong item to an unsuspecting buyer.”
Udo, however, advise motorists to go for new batteries in view of the guarantee they get from the sellers, even as he stressed the importance of them patronising accredited retailers, who would never resort to cheating their clients.
“The difference between fairly used and new batteries is the guarantee. Sellers of fairly used batteries do not give any guarantee, and so, once a buyer notices any fault in the battery he/she just bought, the search for a replacement commences. It is because of this that I usually advise my clients to buy new Korean batteries, as they have proved their worth.
He further advised Nigerians to also ensure that their car alternators were in good working condition in order for them not to return to the battery market sooner than later.
While Udoh is fervent with his gospel of motorists settling for new batteries in view of attendant benefits, Tunde Ogunbawo, owner of Baba-Tee Battery Enterprises, a car battery retail store in Abule Egba, Lagos (dealing in both new and fairly used batteries) is advising customers to rather settle for what their finances can handle.
According to him, “if you cannot afford a new battery, go for a fairly used one. If you have the money, then get a new battery, but ensure that you do not gamble with the wellbeing of your car.
“Now, even the fairly used batteries that some people are ashamed of buying are not cheap. Because some of them last much more longer than some so-called new batteries that are fake.
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