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Saturday, 29 November 2014

Car News: Innoson rolls out 500 made in Nigeria cars

The Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company
Limited will today make history as the first
indigenous car manufacturer in the country
with the official unveiling of 500 made in
Nigeria cars built at its Nnewi, Anambra
State, plant.
In this exclusive interview with CHIDI NNADI ,
the Chairman of Innoson Group, Dr Innocent
Chukwuma, he looked at his journey into
auto manufacturing, which he said began
with his trading in motorcycle spare parts.
Chief Chukwuma assured that his cars,
which conform to international standards,
would lower car prices in the country like he
did when he started to manufacture mo­
torcyles some years back. He also promised
to use his auto company to boost the
Nigerian economy as well as generate em­
ployment. Excerpts:
What is your journey into auto
manufacturing like?
I started assembling business with mo­
torcycle spare parts and later moved to
motorcycle assembling. Later I moved again
from motorcycle manufacturing to auto
manufacturing. I passed through these
stages before I started to manufacture ve­
hicles in 2010, but the factory was built in
2007 at Nnewi. We are also into tyre manu­
facture with our factory in Enugu. We did not
start all these lines of production in one day;
we take them one after another. For
example, we are manufacturing some of the
vehicle components here while we only
import the ones we cannot produce here.
What are the first brand of vehicles you
manufactured?
We started manufacturing buses, but later
added Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs), pick-
up vans, trucks and now cars, which we will
commission today. We started to
manufacture buses first because of its high
demand in the country. But I knew from the
beginning that we will produce all brands of
vehicles and that we have achieved now.
What is the market acceptance of your
vehicles?
Our vehicles are well accepted in the market,
the dealers, the end users and Nigerians are
happy with our range of vehicles. We are
amazed by the demand and level of
patronage of our vehicles by Nigerians. In­
dividuals, corporate organisations, institu­
tions, governments and other Nigerians are
demanding our vehicles. Those who have
used them attest that they are rugged, the
type that can withstand the Nigerian roads
which are usually rough. We are only pray­
ing that we would have enough vehicles to
meet up the demands.
What are the sources of your raw materials
for the vehicles?
We source our raw materials locally here
while we import those we cannot readily get
here. But we generate over 50 per cent of
our vehicle components locally here.
How affordable are your cars?
We want to make sure that our cars are very
affordable. We have done this before when
we started motorcycles manufacturing and
we are going to do it again with our cars. I
can assure you that our cars will be highly
affordable without compromising
international standards on cars manufacture.
We have cars of N1 million plus, N2 million
plus and N3 million; we also have three
models of cars under this price range.
What are your marketing strategy and niche
in the market?
Innoson is a very strong brand in Nigeria
and even beyond the country. All our
products are of high quality, we don’t com­
promise on the quality of our products and
we are known for this. So, Nigerians will
definitely like our cars because they are of
good quality and built specifically to with­
stand the Nigerian roads. Nigerians have
good taste and appreciate quality products,
so they will definitely love our cars, I am
100 per cent sure of it.
What is the standard used by IVM in the
manufacture of its cars?
Auto manufacturing follows international
standard, that is the same thing across the
globe. So, we are adhering strictly to this
international standard. Besides, the Standard
Organisation of Nigera (SON) is supervising
what we are doing, they come to our factory
and they are happy with what we are doing.
Our cars like the buses we started first to
manufacture are of international standard
and we are not going back on this.
You said you also manufacture tyres?
Yes, we also went into tyre manufacturing
because we discovered that Nigeria has the
best quality of rubber, the Nigerian rubber is
so good, so I want to utilize it as raw
material to develop the tyre industry in
Nigeria. Also, you know that tyre is a very
important component of vehicles; so since
we manufacture vehicles here at Nnewi, it
only follows that we must also manufacture
tyres, which we believe will help to further
lower the prices of our vehicles. We want to
make sure that the local content of our
vehicles is high as this will affect their
prices for the betterment of the end users
who are largely Nigerians.
How are you going to sell these cars, do
you have showrooms?
We have designed to build state-of-the-art
showrooms in the six geo-political zones of
the country, including Abuja and Lagos.
These showrooms will be supplying spare
parts, sales of the vehicles and at the same
time have a section for workshop which if
your vehicles develop faults, you go and fix
them there. You can see from the sketch
drawing here that it is a masterpiece. The
concept is that we will control the one at the
headquarters in Abuja and Lagos while the
dealers will control those in the zones for
good synergy between the dealers and
managers at the headquarters. Already, we
have started to construct the showrooms in
Abuja and Lagos.
What is the workforce at your auto plant
like, are you using expatriate staff?
The major parts of the job will be done by
Nigerian workers. We have a policy to
encourage indigenous workforce except in
cases where we cannot get the technical
support needed in the plant locally. But we
will first of all create jobs for Nigerians.
How many cars are you rolling out today?
We are rolling out 500 units. Already, some
of the cars have been bought. We
discovered that some people, as soon as
they heard we have started producing cars,
placed orders. This is because the cars are
fantastic. You know our people used to say
that good market sells itself. The demand
already is quite impressive and when we
launch today, we know the demand will
skyrocket.
There was a time the Federal Government
demanded buses from your company but
the quantity was not met, why?
There is no way you can place order for
large quantity of vehicles today and you have
that number supplied to you immediately.
But whatever quantity you want, if you place
the order on time on the date of delivery, we
will meet your demand. There is no quantity
that is too much for us to produce. What we
need is to increase our manpower to meet
up the demand, but we must be given
adequate notice.
We understand that some state
governments are using your vehicles, what
is the feedback from these states about the
performance of your products?
Yes, a good number of states in Nigeria are
already using the various types of our
vehicle; buses, SUVs, trucks and now cars
and they have found them very efficient and
durable; they are very happy to use our
brands. Our trucks are doing well in the
states that are using them. Remember that
we manufacture these trucks on specification
and order; Abia, Enugu, Delta, Cross River
and Benue states are so far the states we
have manufactured trucks for, essentially for
their waste disposal projects. And these
states are quite happy when they compare
the trucks they were using before and the
IVM trucks.
What are your challenges?
Right now, we don’t have much challenges;
sourcing of the raw materials is not too
difficult, the raw materials are readily
available. In fact, we now have more than 50
per cent local content. Already, we
manufacture plastics which are components
of some parts of vehicles and we
manufacture them here. So, this is one of
the reasons our vehicles are cheaper than
others in the market.
In the next 10 years, where do you think
IVM will be?
For now IVM is the first indigenous car
manufacturer in Nigeria and so long as Ni­
gerians are demanding our cars, in the next
10 years, our cars will help to grow the
economy. We are sustaining what we are
doing by the financial support of the Bank of
Industry and the Automotive Council.
What is your promise to Nigerians?
One thing is sure; IVM cars will never
disappoint Nigerians. We are here not only
to promote the economy, but also to create
employment for Nigerians. If we have more
demands of our vehicles we will stand firm
to increase our workforce thus reducing
unemployment level in the country. I,
therefore, enjoin Nigerians to take advantage
of this new dawn, the IVM vehicles are their
own and are here to serve them for the
better.

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