Maintenance shop around Saris area.

One fine mid-morning last week, Imran Muhedin, 36, visited the Ethio Credit Systems (ECS) showroom to buy a 2020 model Suzuki Dzire vehicle. He sustained an accident a while back, driving on the Addis-Adama expressway with his carbon blue Toyota Vitz 2005 model. He claims that he lost control of the steering wheel while accelerating over 100Km per hour, causing a swerve that turned into a rollover accident.

Imran explained that his car was initially manufactured as a right-wheeled vehicle which was reversed. Unfortunately, some features of the car were not altered. He recalls the airbag remaining intact on the right side and did not inflate, for the crash was not severe enough to trigger its deployment.

"Fortunately, I survived," he said.

Apart from selling vehicles, Ethio Credit Systems (ECS) Plc launched a taxi-hailing service dubbed Seregela Ride Taxi two years ago, mainly provided by women drivers using Suzuki brands. The motor retail business advisor, Bizuayehu Tadesse, is a mechanical engineer and has served as the after-sales director of MOENCO for over 20 years.

Bezuayehu says the cars are designed with a concept of collision safety. He recollects a physics theory about how energy is neither created nor destroyed, transforming the one created due to collision into another form.

"The car is designed to destroy itself to protect the passenger," he said.

Bezuayehu adds every car at the Seregela is serviced after 7,500Km. He challenges the old-fashioned hammering and moulding with heavy heat would affect durability and safety in the long run. Instead, he recommends replacing the damaged panel.

However, the spare-part shops refrain from stocking up on the particular model.

The shop in the Haya Hulet area, in business for nearly a decade, mostly receives inquiries for headlights of Dzire model. The Manager, Mekdes Getachew, does not consider stocking it anytime soon as the cost is high.

Tamrin Motors has become a leader in the Suzuki market share in the country, selling and providing after-sale services for the past six years. The company partners with Indian automobile manufacturer Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, a Japanese automaker Suzuki Motor Corporation subsidiary. Formerly known as Maruti Udyog Ltd, the Indian automobile manufacturer based in New Delhi was founded in 1981 and owned by the Government of India until 2003. The semi-automated manual transmission of the Dzire model uses automatic actuation to operate the clutch and shift between gears.

According to the Deputy Manager of Tamrin, Eyasu Gebeyehu, the company has been selling cars at the same price. He blames brokers for creating artificial inflation after shooting up the price of Suzuki Dzire to 2.5 million Br after the company went out of stock.

For the Chief Marketing Officer, Fanuel Haile, the long waiting time created a market gap as the cars manufactured in India are brought to Dubai before they get here, which takes about a month.

Relating it to the price decrement, customers have recently complained about technical problems with the vehicles claiming the short life span of the Dzire model.

Amanuel Kefelegn has been driving the 2020 Dzire model he bought for 1.2 million Br over a year ago. He said water had entered the gearbox system while at the carwash, which caused abnormal behaviour when driving. Amanuel then went to Michael Garage, located around the Saris Adey Abeba area.

The mechanics have told him oil and water had been mixed inside the gearbox, hopeful of vaporising the water and returning the function to normal. The uncertainty has made Amanuel anxious, with the alternative being total damage that requires importing a spare part from Dubai.

Although difficulties related to the gearbox have not been common for the garage owner Gezahegn Desta around the Megenagna area, he said he observed the specific models suffer from clutch problems sustaining an accident. However, Eyasu argues many buyers bought Dzire only because they could afford it without getting accustomed to the semi-automated system.

Misgana Girma, a branch manager for Hallel Car Importer at the Agona Branch concurs. He believes the models have no problems, and the accusations are groundless.

"Every car has its problems if not handled properly," said Misgana.

The cars have computerized gearboxes void of the parking gear to keep them from moving, a standard option in most automatic transmission vehicles, he said. Instead, he said that these cars use neutral gear and a hand brake to park, making driving challenging in high-traffic areas, especially on sloppy roads.

"It needs a skilful driver," he said.

The burden on drivers with new driver's licenses continues with insurers.

The CEO of Nyala Insurance, Yared Mola, confirms motor claims have increased by 40pc in the past year, as spare parts for newer models are expensive. This has forced the Insurance company to demand a higher rate for drivers with new licences under 21.

For Automotive Engineer Moges Negash, the cars are explicitly designed to be lightweight and fuel-efficient. He said the total weight reaches 1335Kg, with the body compartments made of light metal and a fuel tank made of plastic materials. He is puzzled by the specific complaints about the Dzire model, while many have similar transmission. He tried to compare heavy machinery, tractors, and other heavy-duty trucks using plastic fuel tanks for the same purpose.

According to Moges, the metal tanker is prone to rust and water leakage, so new designs changed their fuel compartment with plastic.

Importers and engineers lean towards an upgrade and replacement, while drivers suffer from availability and the high price of spare parts.

PUBLISHED ON Jan 21,2023 [ VOL 23 , NO 1186]

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