Toyota, Nissan, and Honda: Africa’s Favourite Automobile Brands

What do Toyota, Honda and Nissan have in common? Many things, but the most important one is that they are all Japanese. Of all the Japanese used car exports to Africa, Toyota, Honda and Nissan make the top list. Some quick research online will show you that these brands are also very popular throughout the world.

Perhaps it is the Japanese engineering and technology, the very efficient but affordable machines or maybe it is just that these brands have been very popular in Africa for a long time.

What is the Most Popular Car Make in Africa?

A used 2000 Toyota HiAce Van from online used car exporter BE FORWARD.

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Toyota is no doubt the most popular brand in Africa. It has been around for a long time, such that if we were to wake up one day and miss a Toyota in the first three vehicles on our roads, we would think it very odd.

Why are Japanese Cars Popular in Africa?

There are so many answers to this question, but from the assistance that Japan has been giving to Africa through organisations like the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), it is only expected that Africa would fall in love with Japanese automobiles. In addition, Japan is a major contributor to education and road construction in Africa, through aid and education scholarships.

A happy BE FORWARD customer

But even away from politics, we can say that the ready availability, affordability and fuel-efficient cars make Japan an ideal partner for trade. Today, Africa can mostly afford second hand cars. Africa is the largest importer of Japanese secondhand cars in the world, with 80% of the imported used cars being Toyota, Nissan or Honda. Thanks to their impeccable quality, Japanese used cars are also very popular worldwide. In Africa, we love them because of their affordability.

What are the Most Popular Car Models in Africa?


For sedans, wagons, SUVs, vans and pickup trucks, people prefer Toyota. The Toyota Corolla, Corolla Fielder, Crown, and Hilux are just a few models in this line. Maybe it is just the name, or maybe it is the fact that Toyota is very popular, and that spare parts are easy to find.

Used 2009 Toyota Corolla - BE FORWARD

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However, compared to the other two brands, Toyota is a bit more expensive, but makes up for it with its quality. Sometimes, a good name is enough to sell a product. With a well-established brand name, the seller can attract more buyers.


Between Nissan and Honda, Nissan has the biggest market share in Africa. Models like the Nissan Bluebird, Sahara, X-Trail, Tiida, Wingroad, Advan, Vanette, and Terrano are very popular in Africa.

Used 2001 Nissan X-Trail - BE FORWARD

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Other costlier brands like the awesome Nissan Patrol are mostly purchased for government services.


Among all the Honda models sold in Africa, the Civic, Accord, Odyssey and CR-V are the most popular. The CR-V is especially very popular as a crossover SUV for urban and country use.

A used 1999 Honda CR-V from online used car exporter BE FORWARD.

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Although not as popular as Toyota and Nissan, they still command a good segment of the auto market. With the production of smaller, cheaper and fuel-efficient cars like the Honda Brio, their market segment is bound to get bigger.

How Do Africans Choose Cars?

If you ask a typical African buyer what kind of car they are looking for, the foremost thing that you will hear is a car that is easy to maintain. Are there spare parts readily available? They will not deny that all brands are very good, but they will want to know whether they will find spare parts for the same later.

Another happy BE FORWARD customer

Secondly, all African buyers will ask about the fuel consumption. It makes a very interesting conversation listening to a buyer asking about the details of a car. They always try to determine the km/l by how far a car can travel with a full tank, half tank or quarter tank. No matter how rich an African buyer is, the fuel question is top on the list of the must-know things before buying a car.

Japanese Used Cars in Africa: Interesting Facts

Of all the cars that you will see in Africa, except for South Africa, most of the other countries import Japanese used cars. Of all imports making their way here, Toyota leads, followed closely by Nissan, Isuzu, Honda and others in that order.

Used 2010 Honda Fit Hybrid - BE FORWARD

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Toyota is loved because of its top-notch quality, consistency and reliability. For instance, the Toyota Corolla is a popular car for Kenyans. Mostly, small families who want to invest in a sedan or wagon buy from this brand. It is affordable, safe and easy to drive.

In 2007, Toyota sales in Kenya crunched 22% of the overall market sales. In the neighbouring country, Tanzania, the number of Toyota cars that were bought in the same year amounted to 53% of the total auto-brands.

A used 2011 Nissan March from online used car exporter BE FORWARD.

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The Nissan brand comes second in popularity. Recent research indicates that only 27% of the population in Kenya uses the brand as compared to 37% who buy Toyota models. Honda cars are the last in the list of best selling brands in this region. However, compared to other models in the automobile industry, the brand takes the third position.