The automobile industry is highly technical, with technology and innovation at the forefront. The irony, however, is that, a lot of the auto mechanics relied upon to fix these cars are not upgrading their skills, as many of them often attempt to guess what the problem is, instead of diagnosing the car first.
I was recently with Etop Ikpe, Chief Executive Officer, Cars45.com, a platform that allows used vehicle owners to evaluate, buy and sell their cars in 45 minutes. It is a Startup, seeking to sanitize the used car industry and we talked at length about this.
Etop is of the view that technology plays an important role in just about everything we engage in, these days. He asserted that the fundamentals of technology is improving. To him, technology is not only about being digital when it comes to the automobile industry. He stated that technology includes how transmission improves, fuel efficiency, understanding the nature of the car and even, the cars understanding the issues that they have themselves because, cars are in a better position to know what is wrong with them than any other person.
Etop gave the example of a new car that was just produced which does not require you to open the engine compartment before the engine oil is gauged. The idea, he stated, is to allow the car to tell you when it needs its engine oil to be changed. “That is how much technology has impacted the automotive industry, and these changes will continue to occur”, he stated.
Stating why he went for servicing used cars, Etop stated that he needed to do something else apart from eCommerce and also needed behavioural change. He stated that he also wanted to bring some social angle to what he was doing as an Entrepreneur in Africa, in order to solve challenges. Etop opined that, in most developed countries that we admire so much, it was, in fact, the people of those countries that changed the societies for the better and not necessarily their governments. “It is the people that really drive change, so, for me, I think that one of the things that we have to start doing is recognising the importance of our role as an Entrepreneur, and when you are doing something, there has to be a social angle where you’re actually going to solve a real problem”, he stated. “When you solve a real problem, it creates absolute, massive value within your environment and this has to be a thought around job provision”, he opined.
Etop stated that solving problems, identifying opportunities , taking up big challenges, are actually the driving forces behind all that he has been doing with Deal Dey, Konga and also with Cars45.com. He stated that, as things currently are, where Nigerian auto mechanics do guess work most of the time, they do not seem to have a future. He, therefore, advised that auto mechanics in Nigeria should upgrade themselves and Cars45.com is doing something to re-orientate them and show them the future in doing things properly in the automobile industry.
According to Etop, he does not consider driverless cars a threat to Cars45.com because, the two are not within the same circle. He does not also see that many threats to the work of Cars45.com because he believes that the ecosystem in used cars is just being developed in Nigeria, providing value for everyone. Etop, in fact, thinks that Nigeria is currently very far from driverless cars because, first, we need to fix our roads, GPS, etc., before we can start talking about using driverless cars. He, however, stated that the technology needed for a driverless car to work in an African environment can actually come from Nigeria. “I think that there are even some areas where you see very direct routes, so, who says that driverless cars can’t work for school shuttles and things like that”, he concluded.