Thursday June 19 2014

Let’s chat: Vitz on the spotlight

Toyota Vitz has got its fair share of likes and

Toyota Vitz has got its fair share of likes and dislikes. However, if you need another car in this segment you can think of the Peugeot 206 or the VW Polo among many others. PHOTOS BY ISMAEL KEZAALA 

Mustafa: Yes Jude, what’s up with the Toyota Vitz?

Jude: Personally, I am not a big fan of that car. There was a ..was it a petition of sorts in Kenya some years back when our colleague from Daily Nation, Baraza wrote about it and many of its owners weren’t amused with his comments.

Paul: Is it so?

Jude: Yes, that was about three or four years ago, but that shows you how popular this small car is. It is popular but it has got its challenges. Some people buy it and after some time dump it for another car after realising that climbing hills is a huge challenge.

Mustafa: But you Vitz is mainly a town car. It is quite maneuverable, can easily be parked. I presume its fuel consumption is very low. It must be doing 14-18km per litre. They come in various colours. It is cheeky in a way for a young man or woman. I think the problem here is people who are a bit older. It is a bit of a challenge for them to accept that they are driving a Vitz.

Jude: People here have unwritten rules. It is like a crime to see a big man in a Vitz (extended laughter from all).

Paul: He will push the thing and it cannot move and he is late and then he blames the little car.

Jude: People have positioned it as a woman’s car. That is why men who used to buy RAV4s for their girlfriends are now buying the Vitz.

Mustafa: At the risk of sounding feminist, it is rightly a woman’s car for various reasons. It is not very hard on the wallet, it looks cheeky.

Paul: C-heeky as in naughty or…?

Mustafa: No, no, no, let me put it this way. Most women like big things but when it comes to cars, they prefer small ones.

Jude: Maybe because it is easy to park and the fuel consumption won’t strain their purses.

Mustafa: I know a lady who has a Vitz but she is dying to get rid of it simply because the thing just doesn’t move. Uphill, when she is overtaking, an overtake that would take 10-15 seconds takes her 30 seconds to a minute. So those challenges affect her. But again, the Vitz is misused. I would think of it as being a town errands car. You have to remember that these cars are Japanese domestic market cars. Their target market the other side could be different, probably elderly people who need a simple car.

Jude: It could be meant for deliveries, more like a shopping basket of sorts to the supermarket.

Paul: Or students, single ladies etc.

Jude: But not you buying five bunches of matooke and stuffing them in there.

Paul: It is not meant for you carrying many friends of yours and speeding off the highway. We must look at the segment. It targets young ladies and students. People just starting out.

Mustafa: The problem here is that people don’t look at segments to buy cars for what they are.

Jude: But we can help them. There are people who may want to be different and will go for a Volkswagen Polo.

Paul: Or those people who want to gift their friends (laughter).

Jude: Polo is also small and is European built.

Mustafa: It is German made.

Paul: When you look at segmentation, there are other cars that fit the bill. You have the Honda Jazz/Fit, Toyota Duet, Peugeot 206.

Mustafa: What happened to the Starlet?

Paul: Perhaps, what attracts people to the Vitz is the Toyota tagline. People associate Toyota with easy to find parts and reliability. The Honda Fit is also reliable but I think reliability in regard to ease in accessing parts is what Vitz fans are into and because Toyota is a big name on the Ugandan market. But there also other super minis that are comfortable.

Jude: The Starlet was very popular, in fact I would recommend it ahead of the Vitz.

Mustafa: Did Toyota discontinue the Starlet or this is the continuation.

Paul: The Vitz is a replacement of the Starlet.

Mustafa: Oh, I see.

Paul: And in other markets it is a Yaris.

Jude: Even when you go to Toyota Uganda, it is Yaris and not Vitz.

Mustafa: So what competition does the Vitz have, you had mentioned a few.

Paul: Honda Jazz, VW Polo, VW Lupo, Peugeot 206, Toyota Duet…

Mustafa: The Mercedes Benz A-Class maybe?

Jude: I don’t know what Audi folks were up to, were they experimenting with their funnily shaped A1?

Paul: It looks like an abandoned brick.

Jude: We left out the Smart Four Two.

Mustafa: What is that?

Jude: You don’t know the Smart made by Mercedes?

Mustafa: Oh, ah, I don’t think you want to own such a car in Uganda!

Jude: Isn’t it better than a Vitz?

Mustafa: I don’t think you would want to own it. How many people have you seen with Smarts here?

Jude: Ange Noir’s marketing team had it.

Mustafa: I think that was the first one and only.

Jude: But I have seen a few others.
Mustafa: And these are very complex cars. If you are buying a super mini car you should its primary use of the car. But again this segmentation thing of particular cars meant for certain people doesn’t work in Uganda.

Paul: Vitz is not for people who are in a hurry and carrying many passengers. I know someone who rushes to court cases in a Vitz and he is a big man.

Jude: People don’t understand segments in Uganda, they just buy what they want or what they can afford. By the way, we forgot the Ford Fiesta. It is also in this segment.

Mustafa: But it is not like the manufacturer says this is the segment that you should go for. The manufacturer designs based on their studies, environment, etc.