This Day (Lagos)

23 May 2010

Nigeria: Who Says We Can't Make Our Own Vehicles?

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If the company finally pushes the vehicles into the market, which it hopes will crash the cost of vehicles in the country, it will make history of not only manufacturing world tested vehicles, but further mark the first time vehicles are manufactured locally in this part of the world. Presently, the company is manufacturing a 43-seater bus, 17-seater bus, an SUV (Jeep), pick-up trucks for various purposes, while the IVM saloon cars will soon be added in the production line.

The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Innoson Group, Chief Innocent Chukwuma told THISDAY in Nnewi last week that despite the fact that the vehicles are manufactured, the prices are going to be competitive and affordable. He intends to crash the cost of new vehicles in the country as he did few years ago when he crashed the cost of motor bikes when the price of the imported ones were getting astronomical for the common man on the street who needs it. At the end of the day, he said there would be no reason for one to go for second hand vehicles when he can afford new ones from the IVM range.

The journey for the Nigeria made vehicles by Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Limited did not start yesterday. It is the fruit of a long term planning and huge infrastructural investment. Incorporated in February 2007, with head office and plant located in Akwa-Uru Village in Umudim, Nnewi in Anambra State, Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company, was established to produce a wide range of automotive products like cars, commercial buses, making use of substantial local input.

According to Chukwuma, when fully operational, the plant which is built in the collaboration of a consortium of Chinese auto-makers, is expected to produce other vehicles like trucks, pickup vans, tricycles and purpose-built vehicles like Police patrol vans, refuse collectors/compactors as well as sport utility vehicles (SUVs). Samples of the vehicles that rolled out of the plant were displayed at the recent Nnewi International Auto Trade Fair and the vehicles were highly commended by the Federal Government officials.

With an employment target of about 500 Nigerians and a sprinkle of Chinese expatriates, Innoson Vehicles Manufacturing Company Limited is expected to have an installed capacity for 10,000 vehicles per annum and a turnover of N30.4 billion. As the initial units displayed and test-driven in Nnewi last November are pointers to the foray, the IVM-badged vehicles will compare favourably with imported ones in terms of performance and durability, but will have the advantage of affordability owing largely to high level of local content.

The company's chairman said there is no doubt that Innoson is poised to replicate in the auto industry the revolution it set off in the motorcycle market some years back with the products from its Innoson Nigeria motorcycle plant in the same Nnewi.

Those who have followed the growth of IVM believe that the story of Innoson Group began with foresight, hardwork, perseverance and investment acumen of Chukwuma. They also said that it is about an investor who as a young man ventured into trading in tyres, motorcycle parts and accessories of mainly Honda brand, under the business name of Innoson Nigeria Limited in 1981.

With time, the company flourished remarkably and from being well known as leader in the business of motorcycles and accessories, the company launched into the importation of products from China. By 1990s, Innoson Group had become such a force that its products were dominating the market in all parts of the country and the West Africa sub-region with demand some times outstripping supply.

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