Honda and Mazda: Ignored but good Japanese brands
Posted Thursday, October 24 2013 at 01:00
Japan is the world’s largest automobile manufacturer and exporter, and has six of the world’s 10 largest automobile manufacturers. In addition to its massive automobile industry, Japan also is home to manufacturers of other types of vehicles, like power sports manufacturers Kawasaki and Yamaha, and heavy equipment manufacturers Komatsu and Hitachi.
It is home to some of the world’s largest automotive companies such as Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Suzuki, Mitsubishi, Yamaha, Mazda, and Subaru.
In Uganda we love Japanese cars. Not only because they are affordable (when second hand anyway) but their reliability is always second to none. However, looking at the list, three brands are not doing so well in Uganda specifically Mazda, Honda and Suzuki. These are brands that are going exceptionally well on the world stage but just not in Uganda.
As you might know many car purchases are based on cost, resale value, what my neighbour’s friend said, what the other man said at the bar, what everyone is driving and simply what is available on the market.
Nonetheless, with the Internet coming along, many car buyers have a much wider choice and brands such as Mazda and Honda are pulling through with cars like Mazda Premacy, Mazda Atenza and Honda Fit.
For Honda, the perceived quality and reliability may have been influenced by its lacklustre products like the first generation Honda CR-V manufactured between 1995 and 2001. It was a direct competitor to the extremely popular Toyota RAV4.
This car had so many gremlins with hard to find and definitely expensive parts. Resale value was abysmal with virtually all buyers in Uganda getting burnt. Honda is a brand that commands worldwide respect, a sentiment that is twisted for CR-V owners. On the other hand though there are several proud owners of the Honda Civics and many Honda Fit cars are filtering through. On the global stage Honda has won several accolades in reliability surveys.
Mazda is a different story all together. Ugandans have just never liked this brand, period. It is simply a hard brand to own in Uganda for two reasons. First off, no one will want to buy it from you and secondly, its spare parts are a hard find.
Looking back, Mazda was a victim of the Asian financial crisis in 1997. During this time Ford acquired 39.9 per cent of the company creating a collaboration between the two marques, sharing engine design and technologies and even some platforms for instance Ford Escape with Mazda Tribute and Ford Focus with the Mazda Axela.
Mazda has been preaching the sportiness gospel in recent years with many of their models following in line.
Although awareness of those brands in Uganda is relatively low compared with that of more established brands, drivers who were familiar with them hold Honda and Mazda in high regard. Toyota continues to dominate in brand perception. Nevertheless, the perceived difference between Toyota and the challengers is shrinking. Reliability is one of the key attributes that buyers look for when looking to make a used purchase, Honda and Mazda do provide. The only speed bump in our setting really is the service parts.
Thing is, cars these days are very intricate electro-mechanical devices, and things are bound to break. Keep your expectations real, and deal with the problems calmly if/when they arise. The most important thing to remember is proper maintenance is what keeps a car on the road trouble-free.