How car generations have changed over the last decade

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By Jude Katende

When I first developed this story idea, it pretty much looked like an easy one to time. But when I dug further to see exactly which cars trended in Uganda from 2010 onwards, then reality kicked in, not so many. Most of what we have had have been cars from other decades.

On average, a decade can see three or four generations of vehicles depending on the manufacturer’s life cycle of the vehicles in question. Some generations span three years while others four-five or more years. In Uganda, we usually depend on second hand imports and over the last 10 years we have witnessed some interesting changes in the industry.

SUVs

The Toyota RAV4, first introduced in 1994-2003 has been largely a very popular SUV in Uganda and also sought after by carjackers. Now into its fifth generation, the first and second generations are much older and not so popular with buyers. These days, it is the third generation (2005-2016) is what is perhaps the most popular in Uganda today with a few people being able to afford the fourth generation (2012–2018).

The Mercedes-Benz M-Class was a mid-size luxury SUV produced since 1997. However, in 2015, the M-Class was renamed GLE-Class. The letter “L” acts as a linkage with the letter “E”—the GLE being the SUV equivalent to the E-Class. The first generation (1997–2005) looks really aged and if your eyes are keen, you will notice that these days, the second generation (2005–2011) is more popular. Those who can afford the third generation (2012–2019) which was the last M-Class have contributed to its presence on our roads.

When the Range Rover Sport debuted globally in 2005, it caused quite a stir as it was all whistles blowing as a beautiful SUV. With time, things have quickly changed and the first generation Sport whose generation ended in 2013 is no longer the buzz it was in the beginning because many other generations have taken over. There is even the Velar.

Yes, the first generation is still respected as a Range Rover but with subsequent models including the smaller Evoque, it no longer makes people turn their heads.

Sedans

Among the cars that most Ugandans have liked has been the Toyota Mark II. Many generations have been around but the ninth generation (2000-2007) was quite popular. But it later was replaced by the more popular Mark X (2004-2009).  The second generation (2009–2019) is also popular. Can you imagine that the Subaru Legacy that many Ugandans are madly in love was made in 2003/4 for the fourth generation? In fact, the police used them as escort cars during the 2007 Chogm conference. That means if you bought this Legacy in 2020, then it is 17 years old! If you buy it in 2024, then it is 21 years old.

Vans

Most Ugandans, I included if not by doing some research may think that the ToyotaLiteAce and TownAce vans later called LiteAce Noah are the first generation Noah. The LiteAce Noah produced in 1996-2007 was replaced by the first generation Toyota Noah and its twin, the Voxy in 2001- 2004. The Toyota Voxy was intended to be the sportier version of the Noah, featuring split headlamps and clear taillights. The second generation (2007–2017) is rarely seen in Uganda as it still in many motorists’ view “still new” and therefore expensive.

When it comes to bigger vans, those with a higher income are opting for the bigger and spacious Toyota Alphard.  This van’s production started in 2002 and is one of the “most recent” luxurious vans on the Ugandan market.  Alphard G. The “G” stands for “grand. Alphard V. The “V” stands for “victory.”

While for some cars it is the first generation becoming older, for others it is the second generation becoming older while others it is the second or third generation becoming “newer” never mind that all these are second hand cars, but this being Uganda, we are comfortable with that situation of old cars because it is what the majority of consumers can afford.  From my research, most Ugandans can afford cars made between eight and twelve years of a particular generation from when it was first made. Meaning for cars made in 2020, most Ugandans will buy them in 2028 or 2032.

Affordability for many Ugandans is still a big challenge. The figures from the developed world are quite telling. According to Rev, a car show by Duetsche Welle TV, Germany is home to 47million cars with Berlin alone having registered 87,000 new cars in 2019.

In Uganda, it is estimated that we only have 100,000 cars countrywide. But the main point is that many Ugandans can only afford to buy vehicles that are ten years old and upwards say 15 years from the year of manufacture. That means there is only a small section of Ugandans including Government that can buy brand new cars in 2024 with zero mileage. By the way, did you know that some people think that cars from the bonds are new, yet they are all used cars. That is a story for another day.

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