Top Six Things I Learned

#6: It’s a seller’s market

That is the fifth most striking thing I learned from half a day of new car shopping in Accra on February 22. The showrooms are mostly hard to get into. It is not easy to find a place to park, and sometimes we had to walk a certain distance. It was also not always obvious where to find the front door. On the other hand, the sales people were friendly and fairly knowledgeable. No pressure at all.

#5: The dollar reigns

All prices were in US dollars and in one case also in Euros. The Ghanaian currency, the cedi, was nowhere to be found. Dealers are protecting their precious assets by pricing them in the currency in which they buy them.

#4: Cars are expensive

Toyota had a Camry for $63,000. I must admit that I walked past the Audi and Mercedes dealerships without getting figures, so my data is incomplete. Taxes are a big reason for the prices. The cheapest car we found is a Renault Logan at just under $14,000. We did not stop at the dealers in Chinese (Ssangyong) and Indian (Tata) vehicles.

#3: Financing? Not really

All dealers offered financing. The terms: half down on delivery and the rest to be paid in six months, sometimes without interest. Some had connections with banks where the going interest rate on vehicle loans is 20% with terms up to 60 months. Ouch. This probably explains the lack of pressure. Either the prospective buyer has the cash or they do not.

#2: I am white trash

My white skin sends the false message that I can walk in the door and drive out with a new car. In a flash, the sales staff figure out my real buying potential.

And the #1 thing I learned: I’m looking for a used car.