With the ‘Grow the Naira’ Hashtag going around, Toyota Nigeria Limited has made that even more poignant with their unveiling of its first locally-assembled vehicle in Lagos, a Hiace bus.
This is coming about two and a half years after the announcement of the Automotive Industry Development Plan by the Federal Government, which raised the import duty on cars from 22 per cent to 70 per cent in order to discourage vehicle importation.
With that in place, vehicle makers were given a leverage and Toyota Nigeria took advantage announcing last year a plan to establish a vehicle assembly plant in the country to join Nissan, Ford, Kia, Peugeot and a host of other auto firms already assembling vehicles locally.
The Managing Director, Toyota Nigeria, Mr. Kunle Ade-Ojo, said the new Hiace was assembled in the company’s plant in Lagos, built with 30,000-unit production capacity every year.
According to him, the plant’s facility comprising two lines is expected to assemble mini buses, pickups and other light commercial vehicles.
The Hiace, he said, was assembled as a test case, adding that the organisation would soon begin its mass production.
Ade-Ojo said, “We need to introduce some changes to the plant so as to achieve efficiency in the operations. With the current economic situation, we are looking at starting the mass production in a couple of months.
“We are constantly training technicians and as far as the plant is concerned, we are assuring customers that we will continuously improve the assembling process of our vehicles to ensure that the vehicles meet international standards.”
Ade-Ojo said as soon as the mass production of vehicles commenced, there would be competitive prices for its products.
According to him, no automobile company is manufacturing any vehicle in Nigeria, stressing, “What everybody does is to assemble the parts. The parts are shipped in from overseas.” but it is hoped that this encourages more car manufacturers to make the cars in Nigeria.