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Friday, 7 August 2015

Kia Nigeria assembles 2,500 cars, targets 27,000 yearly


Activities at the Kia assembly plant in Lagos are picking up as it has rolled out 2,500 cars since the factory was inaugurated in the first quarter of last year.

The firm, which gave its annual target as 27,000 vehicles, said it had invested heavily in the plant currently producing nine Kia models with all their trims for the nation’s market.

The Chief Operation Officer of the company, Mr. Gitesh Yagnik, said this after guiding motoring journalists on a tour of the assembly plant on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway in Lagos.

He said the complex had been built to the high standard of Kia Motors Corporation and gave the list of Kia models being currently churned out of the plant as Rio, Cerato, Optima, Sportage and the all-new 2015 Sorento.

According to him, after several months of construction, installation of technologically advanced equipment and the training of its personnel, the assembly line rolled out the first Nigeria-made Kia models in April 2014.

According to  Punch news paper,the plant was said to have started with semi knocked down (vehicle components) where painted and trimmed bodies were shipped from an established plant in one box, mechanicals in another and the two would be joined; with the addition of some locally sourced transmission fluids, air conditioner gas among others to make up complete vehicles.

Yagnik expressed the company’s commitment to the industrialisation of Nigerian economy and the success of the auto policy.

The automotive policy was unveiled in September 2013 to encourage local assembly/production of vehicles through the imposition of high tariff on imported vehicles and zero import duty on vehicle components (parts) for use by local auto assembly plants.

And since the announcement of the policy by the Federal Government, over 40 vehicle manufacturing firms have embraced the idea. Lately, big auto manufacturers such as Toyota and Honda have joined Nissan, Volkswagen, Hyundai, among others already assembling vehicles locally.

Yagnik also spoke on how the Kia assembly project had provided jobs for the locals, revealing that over 85 per cent of its employees were sourced locally from Nigerian universities.

He specifically said the plant had employed 150 engineers drawn from Nigerian universities that had undergone an intensive training programme and capacity development before their employment at the plant.

“We now have 150 trained and qualified engineers and over 50 support staff running the operational and assembling process cycle of the plant.”

The Chief Commercial Officer, Mr. Sandeep Malhotra, also commented on this, saying, “The plant is people-focused. We believe our strength is in our employees rather than machines.”

He stated that Kia Nigeria was committed to the long-term investment in the auto industry despite the challenges currently being faced.

The Supply Chain Manager, Oluwayemisi Onanuga, gave insights into the plant’s facility and assembling process.

She said, at the plant, there was no compromise on quality and standard of the factory, adding that the mission remained to sustain it as one of the best auto manufacturing firms in the country.

“It’s a highly ventilated facility and its environmental worthiness brings the auto company to the fore of the Nigerian auto industry. The excitement emanating from the plant cannot be over-emphasised as the employees are passionate about their work and are committed to producing made-in-Nigeria Kia vehicles the preferred choice in the country.

She explained how the plant planned to do 27,000 vehicles in a year and increase the production lines, which would depend on the demand.

The immediate Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, had expressed his delight at the successful completion of the new plant when he went on an inspection visit to the factory in April this year.


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