Stories by Clem Khena-Ogbena
No fewer than 15 foreign automobile companies, which had earlier established vehicle assembly plants in different parts of the country, would commence full blast operations around November, this year.
The Director General, National Automotive Council (NAC), Engr Aminu Jalal, disclosed this yesterday during a media chat with reporters in Abuja, adding that the South Korean auto giant, Hyundai, had indicated its willingness to locally produce new vehicles that would be sold for below N1.7 million.
Jalal said, “We encourage assembly plants to produce vehicles that people can afford; our aim is to see that within a short while, people will stop buying fairly used or ‘Tokunbo’ vehicles.
“We are not going to force people, but we will make new locally made vehicles attractive backed by affordable vehicle finance scheme.
“Already, Hyundai has told us it will produce new vehicles that will sell for N1.7 million, which I think is even below the cost of most ‘Tokunbo’ vehicles.
“I am sure that a vehicle that will sell for between N1.7 million and N2.5 million, backed by a vehicle finance scheme that will spread payment between three and four years, will be affordable for Nigerian.’’
The Director General further stated that the Council had disbursed over N11billion to 33 local automobile companies to boost the production of affordable Made-in-Nigeria vehicles, adding that the first set of locally made vehicles would start hitting the country’s automobile market by the end of April. He noted that the exiting assembly plants in the country were located in Lagos, Kaduna, Kano, Nnewi, Bauchi, Enugu and Osogbo.
He also pointed out that out of the 33 benefitting companies, only three were involved in vehicle assembly operations, while the rest were local content manufacturers.
According to him, the Council was working with the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to enforce that locally made vehicles were of international standard, saying that the council would also put in place test-centres in Lagos, Abuja and Port-Harcourt, where locally made vehicles and imported vehicle parts would be taken for quality test.
The Director General also said that the Federal Capital Territory Administration, (FCTA) had provided land for the establishment of the centres and vehicle recycling plants.
Jalal noted that no nation developed without industrialisation, citing Japan, Taiwan, and China, among others, as countries which had used automotive industry to created jobs and wealth for their people.