Each of the vehicles costs at least tens of thousands of euros, representing decades of work for an Ivorian earning the minimum wage, even after it was recently hiked 60 percent to 60,000 CFA francs a month. That’s around $125 a month or an annual salary of $1,500. In Ivory Coast, luxury cars make up only 3 percent of the 8,000 new cars sold each year, said one industry expert who asked to remain anonymous.
“However certain customers are looking for the top of the line — “bling-bling” cars — there are people with money like that in the market,” he added.
In Johannesburg, Lagos, or even Libreville wealthy Africans love the big, high, four-wheel drive SUV vehicles. Not only are they better adapted to the roads, regularly in a poor condition, they have also become something of a status symbol.
In Gabon, 70 percent of the 6,000 new vehicles sold each year are big 4x4s, mostly Japanese models, according to the Gabonese Federation of Car Importers. “Here, its a 4×4 or nothing,” said one car importer who declined to give his name. For the Gabonese, the SUV has become “the symbol of success, much more than a house”.
This brash display of luxury cars is an indication of the growing wealth in Africa despite increasing numbers living in extreme poverty. Porsche boasts a brand new showroom in Victoria Island, one of Lagos’ most chic neighborhoods. The German carmaker’s sales have jumped by nearly 40 percent the past two years in South Africa. It has recently set up shop in Angola and Ghana. Local partners are being sought for dealerships in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Namibia, Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia.
Mercedes also views the potential of the African market as “enormous”. The German carmaker has an assembly line in South Africa, where it sells 20,000 vehicles per year.
BMW said it also intends to keep expanding across Africa, where it saw 15 percent sales growth in 2012 to 34,000 vehicles.
Audi expects further growth in certain parts of Africa, where its sales have doubled in three years to 22,000 vehicles.
Taken from here