Friday, January 6, 2012

Africa Overland Vehicle Choice - 2011 Statistics

The main focus for the Africa Overland Network is to link past, current and future independent overland websites.  As a result, the website has captured journey time, primary route and vehicle choice. It is currently the most updated website dedicated to independent overlanders.  As a result, the statistics on vehicle choice and travel time tell an interesting story.

Leading up to 2010, the Land Rover was the preferred vehicle of choice for the overlander.  There were a number of reason why Land Rover was the preferred vehicle:  Majority of trip started from the North and headed South across Africa.  The cost of equipping a Land Rover was generally cheaper in the Northern hemisphere due to the availability of spare parts, overland accessories and certified mechanics.
Toyota was catching up - with the cost of the vehicle, availability of spares and accessories, the landscape was changing... The Toyota Land Cruiser was becoming affordable, and offered an alternative to Land Rover.
You can read all about Land Rover vs Toyota in the 2010 report: Which Overlander?

Big Changes in 2011
This year has been an interesting one... two big highlights have occurred that are worth mentioning.

Total number of active trips:
The total number of current trips in 2011 has seen a huge decline compared to the previous years.  This, I believe, clearly shows the impact of the global economy has had on people planning for extended overland travel.
The graph below shows the total number of trans-Africa overland adventures using Land Rover and Toyota vehicles (criteria must be a live website hosted on The Africa Overland Network).

Land Rover vs Toyota:
The 2nd biggest change - and this is a huge one - is the fact that for the very first time since The Africa Overland Network started, Toyota has been the preferred vehicle of choice for trans-Africa trips. As stated above, the criteria must be a live website hosted on The Africa Overland Network.

2009 2010 2011
Land Rover 48 40 17
Toyota 32 31 25
Total of both Vehicles 80 71 42
Land Rover as a % of total*  60% 56% 40%
Toyota as a % of total* 40% 44% 60%
Total Trips per year 144 127 61
* The % totals have been rounded-up

The 2010 stats can be found here: Which Overlander?

Average Travel Time for Trans-Africa Overland Expeditions:
The average time (based on the start and finish dates of each trip, regardless of vehicle) for a full Trans-Africa trip is just over one year.
The average over the last 11 years has been 396 days however this figure is slightly skewed as there are a few trips over 1000 travel days.
The average trip length across Africa by Land Rover or Toyota that have take a year or less is 219 days (7 months) based on 241 overland trips during the last 11 years.  The average for the last two years (2010 & 2011) are only 199 days (just over six months).
It's a fascinating look into overland travel time.  I believe the stats are about 85% accurate as majority of trips who list on The Africa Overland Network specify a start and finish date.

Predictions for 2012
Early signs for 2012 are indicating that trans-Africa trips will be back to the 2007/2008 levels rather than the bumper levels of 2009/2010.  It's fairly clear that Toyota will dominate trans-Africa overland trips for the next few years based on the availability of Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles in the Northern Hemisphere and the availability of spares and accessories.
My expectation is that travel time across Africa will continue to shorten as routes become more defined and the pressure to take a year long overland trip comes under financial pressure.

Interesting Comments
10 January 2012: I posted a link to various internet forums and received a few interesting comments:
Venu from Movinghouse added the following which I thought was good feedback:
This is fascinating information. We have spent the past year on Tunisia -> Cape Town, and would add a few observations and anecdotal data points:

1) Virtually every group (around 30 groups) doing a similar journey was aware of the Africa Overland Network, and about 1/3 of them had posted their site info on it.

2) Analysing just the English language based web sites are likely to be somewhat favorably biased towards LR as more British travelers are in LRs. We met only two non-British groups in an LR out of around a dozen.

3) Some overland prep outfits in the UK are nudging their clients more towards one manufacturer as they try to build standardised set-ups to reduce costs. LC tends to win out here as perceived/actual reliability is seen as important by non- car enthusiast clients who tend to go more to overland outfits in the first place. We experienced this first hand when we went around England choosing a workshop for some of the major work.

The number of trips data you have for 2011 may well be affected quite a bit by the Arab Spring - Libya and Syria still problematic. We know of several couples who have postponed their trips.
Julian Voelcker (Overland Cruisers) offered his insight:
Running Overland Cruisers, a UK business specialising in prepping Land Cruisers for trips we have seen a major drop off in the number of people travelling or planning trips. The Arab Spring has affected trans Africa trips, but we have also seen a drop off in the Silk Route and other destinations.
Currently the only customers planning trans Africa trips in the early 2012 are South Africans, half heading home for good and then the other half planning on coming back to the UK.

 Forum links: Expedition Portal and Horizons Unlimited