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Nissan vs Toyota: Look beyond resale value and cost of parts

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Nissan vs Toyota: The following feature was first published by Baraza JM in the Daiy Nation Car Clinic Column.

What are the merits of buying a Nissan Bluebird over the Toyota NZE? The alternative to buying a car is leasing one, except that the owner has some operating costs that must be factored in.

I bought an ex-Japan Mazda over 10 years ago. It cost Sh. 600,000, all costs inclusive, compared to a similar Toyota model that cost roughly Sh. 800,000. I added roughly 60,000km to its mileage and ensured it is serviced regularly. The maintenance costs were quite low as I had changed the shocks, tyres, battery and brakes only once.

I bought original Mazda parts as the second-hand Mazda market was virtually non-existent. I could afford to have third-party insurance and park it anywhere without fear that it might get stolen! I have since sold off the car. But if I were to write off in say 2015 (10 years of use), I would take Sh. 600,000, plus, say, Sh. 60,000 in parts and Sh. 60,000 insurance, and divide these by 10 years and have the alternative to leasing costs of Sh. 72,000 per year, or less than Sh. 200 per day. I would probably receive Sh. 250,000 if I sold it.

However, the Sh. 600,000 paid at time of purchase would be probably worth Sh. 1.2 million my time of sale after inflation, so the Sh. 250,000 is worth just half, if we strip inflation from our equation.

The point is that too many people get engrossed in what the car would fetch in the secondary market over the true economic cost of the alternative to leasing (opportunity cost). The secondary market value might be affected by all sorts of vagaries, including, but not limited to, accidents, inflation, sub-standard spares (a Toyota problem) and theft.

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For instance, the Nissan Bluebird is a marvelous car with a large boot and huge rear seating space. I rented one for a safari and it posted close to 18km/l; not bad at all! It might have been designed for the Ugandan male market, like the Toyota Carina.

The result of our obsession with Toyota is that we tend to go overboard in our thriftiness and the outcome is absurd to any observant third parties. Whenever a person is buying a car, the first thought on his/her mind is “what will it cost me and how much will I sell it for?” The second thought, invariably, is: “Is it a Toyota?” How about we focus on the car itself, the value it brings to our lives and the benefits it affords us?

This is the point where the car buff in me comes out, and I will say something a motoring hack never should: a car is a car. Never mind the fun I poke at some or the ruthless lashing I mete on others; at the end of the day, learn to appreciate what you have. Think about the reason you bought the car in the first place (besides as a tangible investment to be redeemed in the future once the dollar value of the Kenya shilling goes wonky or when your spouse insists the kids should go to an overpriced educational institute and you lack the wherewithal to support this whim but you cannot say no without looking like a proper bastard).

The car is a means of transportation. The car is a pod in which to get away from the outside world, a channel for some enjoyment, however ephemeral it may be. In some situations, the car is an extension of the family.

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