NIGERIAN ONLINE AUTO PLATFORM “CARS45”

By Paul Ndiho

A Nigeria-based online auto platform, Cars45, is competing with traditional car dealers as it grows its platform, which buys, sells, prices, and rates the condition of per-owned vehicles. 

Auto Trader’s 2020 Car Industry report, released in earlier this year, says global interest in Pre-owned vehicles is at an all-time high. There are over 400 million online searches between mid-2019 to 2020, reflecting a massive 40 percent increase in used car searches.  Lagos-based Cars45, an online auto platform that is positioning itself as the go-to website for used car sales in the region. Olajide Adamolekun, Chief Finance officer, cars45.

“We looked at the industry and realized that there was a lack of transparency in the used car automotive space. How do we know the real value of the car, how do we know what the car’s condition is and whoever is buying, how would they know what they are buying?  So that lack of transparency – Saw the opportunity to create value where people who want to sell their car, people who want to buy cars, can meet in a very transparent manner. 

The used-car market in Nigeria is a big hassle.  There’s so much mistrust, no vehicle history, and not much of a structured dealer network. These are just some of the challenges Cars45 is trying to solve. 

“Whoever wants to sell their car, first, you go online to get a sense of evaluation. Posts the vehicle’s model, year of the vehicle, and once it’s posted online – our website, it gets a range of prices of which the car could fall depending on the grade, and I think we are the first in Nigeria to do that.” 

Started in 2016, Cars45 has since expanded to more than 60 locations where sellers or owners enter their vehicle information for a free quote. They can then schedule an appointment at one of the inspection centers.  

“We currently have over 63 inspection centers across Nigeria and these retail footprints where people that want to sell their cars go to or drive too, and it’s 200-point inspection. It’s like if a patient goes to a Doctor and says they want to do a blood checkup, that’s what we do.” 

In much of sub-Saharan Africa, the imports satisfy the demand for mobility. Simultaneously, many public transport systems are undeveloped and newer models are not affordable to many in the growing middle class. 

“Individuals import over 500,000 (used cars) vehicles per year. And because of that fragmentation, there are many other value chain services and possibilities that are not available– so the question is how can we do this in the most transparent manner where the customer knows what they are buying.” 

Like many technology companies in Nigeria, Cars45’s continues to attract venture capitalists and has raised millions of dollars in funding.  The company is setting its sights on pursuing Nigeria-first growth strategies before expanding to other markets.  However, analysts say that pre-owned cars present environmental challenges.  They contribute to the pollution burden on a continent that contributes far less than other regions to the emissions that may contribute to global warming. 

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