Nigeria is known in the auto world for its importation of foreign-used/new vehicles and as such, the roads are littered with different brands of foreign automobiles like Mercedes, Nissan, Toyota, Honda just to name a few. But not much can be said about indigenous automobiles. In a country where locally made products are not well recognized or given the necessary attention and publicity, one would understand the reason why they’re not appreciated.
In 2016, over N500bn was spent on importation cars, trucks, and buses. Also, more than N400bn was spent on the purchase of spare parts, while N150bn was spent on tyres alone. The auto market is a huge one and a functional local auto manufacturing sector will go a long way in providing meaningful support to the growth of the economy via employment, wealth creation, and so on. The Nigerian government introduced a policy in 2013 under its National Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) to aid the survival of local auto manufacturing in the country. The policy would see an increase in import duty and levy on Fully Built Cars (FBU), thereby reducing the rate of importation on this side of the continent. Nigerians love quality things and would love to have it at all cost, a perfect explanation of their love and patronage of foreign automobiles be it brand new or “tokunbo”.
In a bid to change the narrative of Nigeria in the automobile world, Innocent Chukwuma, the CEO of the Innoson Group of Companies and Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM), decided to work towards eradicating “tokunbo” foreign-used cars in Nigeria. He created IVM so as to solve the problem of affordability and quality. For a while now, the prices of automobiles have doubled in Nigeria, making it quite difficult to purchase a car. He started off as an auto-sales apprentice in his hometown of Nnewi in the Anambra state. He then proceeded to establish a plastic manufacturing company in the Enugu state – Innoson Technical and Industrial Company Limited. His passion for the manufacturing of made-in-Nigeria products, despite the ever-present competition with the foreign companies in the Nigerian market, is quite remarkable and has been unswervingly outstanding as well.
The automobile plant is located in the South-Eastern part of Nigeria, in Nnewi itself, where the vehicles are being assembled. Over 60% of the parts used are sourced locally, creating employment opportunities via local manufacturing of components. Inaugurated in 2010, IVM has produced thousands of automobiles to date, ranging from heavy-duty vehicles, patrol vans, pick-up vans, SUVs, mini and long buses and saloon cars. These automobile products are quite affordable compared to the foreign brands and are also built to cruise easily on the Nigerian roads.
Much has been said about the longevity of IVM in Nigeria but since 2010, it has recorded an increasing amount of patronage within the country. With clients ranging from the Nigerian government agencies, transport lines, individuals, academic establishments and so on, IVM has become a trusted auto manufacturer in Nigeria. In a market where the demand for vehicles every year is steadily on the rise, even though the roads aren’t favourable enough for transportation, and also with the rate of importation reducing drastically every year, one can hope to see IVM on the Nigerian roads more often. Just recently, the Nigerian Army entered into a partnership with IVM for provision and modification of some of its equipment and are already taking deliveries.
IVM has taken it upon itself to reduce to the barest minimum the use of “tokunbo” in Nigeria and Africa as a whole and for this reason, has extended its operation to other parts of the continent. With over 10,000 vehicles manufactured and operating in 25 countries in Africa, the possibility of cleaning the African roads is looking more likely.
Innoson Motors on its website says “We are manufacturing durable and affordable brand new automobiles for Africans.” IVM will go on to be the first Made-In-Africa automobile brand, a brand that has been gaining ground one step at a time. Finally, Africans can now boast of an automobile company to call their own; a company that produces quality automobiles that is ready to displace the foreign brands that are currently on African roads. It would be great seeing IVM products on African roads because that is why it was started in the first place; to be Africa’s first choice in the automobile world.
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