Auto Drive: Top 5 Vehicles J'cans didn't like
Until recently, owning a brand new motor vehicle was only a dream for the majority of Jamaicans. Faced with high interest rates at financial institutions and relatively expensive prices at car dealerships, the motoring public had few options for affordable transportation.
Some importers toyed around with the idea of sourcing unconventional, but affordable brands for solutions. Here are some of these cars that failed to anchor roots in Jamaica, but left an indelible impression.
The Yugo 45, 55 and 65:
The Yugo 45 was a subcompact automobile manufactured by Zastava in Yugoslavia, under licence from Fiat, which said the 45 used a lot of components from the Fiat 127. Although production started in 1980, the Yugo gained traction globally in the late 1980s. It was touted as a 'simple, low cost car,' by Malcolm Bricklin who imported the vehicle into the United States. The car was plagued with mechanical problems and the interior comprised of inexpensive materials, which would 'fall off.' The Yugo required frequent maintenance which defeated the purpose of it being economical. The Yugo had a short life span and quickly found itself at scrap-yards island wide.
The Chery QQ:
In the mid-2000s New Line Motors had an idea to import brand new, affordable cars manufactured by the Chinese government. The QQ was affordable and Jamaicans were receptive to this new initiative. These cars were fuel efficient which also helped the vehicle to gain traction locally. Poor planning led to the demise of the QQ; after-sales service was lacking and spare parts were not readily available. Sales eventually suffered and New Line ceased operations shortly after.
The Great Wall Sailor and Deer:
The Great Wall Sailor and Deer pickups were rebranded (badge engineered) Toyota Hilux and Nissan Frontier. Although these pickups had great design inspiration and in some cases had badge engineering agreements with other manufacturers, the quality and reliability of the parent brand failed to make the transition. The Sailor and Deer pickups suffered from poor quality control during the manufacturing process. These pickups were largely unreliable and the interiors failed to stand up to the tropical climate as parts would often crystalise and disintegrate. Owning one of these would mean having a vehicle that spent more time in the garage, than on the road.
When the Nano was first launched in 2008, it gained attention as being the most affordable new car globally. Tata Motors was able to achieve this mandate by selling a car with only basic features, such as an air conditioner and CD radio. Features such as power-steering and anti-lock brakes were eliminated. The car was expected to thrive in Jamaica as it was developed in India, which has similar road conditions as Jamaica. Even though the price tag was under a million dollars in 2013, the Tata Nano failed to make an impression with the local market. Metis Motors, the local dealer for the car only managed to sell a handful of these units before exiting the market.
Why do you think the Citroen Xantia fail to dominate the local market in Jamaica?
b) unfamiliarity of the brand
c) lack of after-sales service
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Leo Paul Mantack
Audrey McNeil Smith