With a population of about 170 million and an economy that is one of the largest in Africa, Nigeria has the potential to be a major force in the global auto industry in the next 20 years.
This was the view expressed by the Managing Director of Nissan South Africa, Mr. Mike Whitfield, while speaking with Motoring Editors from Nigeria, who were invited by the company to the just ended Festival of Motoring in Johannesburg.
Whitfield, who is also the President, National Association of Automobile Manufacturers South Africa (NAAMSA) and the Vice President of African Association of Automobile Manufacturers (AAAM), however, said that this could be achieved through sustainable implementation of the country’s automotive policy.
He explained that putting in place a legislative frame-work that enhances stability and gives certainty over a long period of time, and ensuring a large market for local auto makers by dealing with the twin issues of imported used (Totunbo) vehicles and parallel imports, are factors that will help develop the auto industry.
“There is potential if everyone can work together”, he said. “I believe Nigeria could certainly become in a 20-year time period, a major force in the auto industry. Sustainability is the key. It should not be a short-term project. We all are going to focus on industrialisation and diversification”.
Whitfield further remarked: “A sustainable auto industry has many facets to it – the first aspect is to build a legislative frame-work that allows stability and gives certainty to distance over a long period of time. The other aspect is that no one is going to invest in a market unless it is of a reasonable size. ‘If one looks at the Nigerian market, 800,000 vehicles were imported (plus or minus) last year, of which only 40,000 were new vehicles with grey imports or parallel imports. The size of the market can only grow if we can offer affordable solution”.
According to him, the solution to the dominance of Tokunbo and grey imports does not lie in the production of affordable vehicles only, but also in creating access to finance for people to be able to buy them.
Referring to high interest rate in Nigeria, he stated, “If you are lucky you would get vehicle finance at 24 percent in Nigeria, and quite frankly, at 24 percent, you can’t do finance scheme”.
He, however, lauded the efforts being made by the Nigerian government through the National Automotive Council (NADDC), in conjunction with a South African Bank, to introduce a vehicle purchase scheme that will enable buyers of made-in-Nigeria vehicles access funds at 10 percent or less.
The Nissan South Africa Managing Director who as part of the AAAM delegation that met President Muhammadu Buhari and other top government officials in Abuja recently, described the mission as successful, adding that outside South Africa, Nigeria has the biggest potential for growth.
“I think the time has never been better for us to see how we can work together with industry parties in Nigeria to develop a sustainable motor industry. In South Africa, the auto industry creates sustainable jobs and employs directly more than 83,000 people and that is the result of many decades of work. We have to make it start in Nigeria. The potential is massive with more than 170 million people and over 350 million ECOWAS population, no one expects you to build an industry over night”.
‘Dodge Durango, most technologically advanced SUV in its class’
The 2016 Dodge Durango is back with more aggressive styling that will make other modern SUVs jealous, and packing in the process a full-size ‘punch’ with state-of-the art features that would make any home entertainment system look ordinary
With this rich endowment, it does not come to many as a surprise that the current Durango has been described in various critical reviews as the most technologically advanced SUV in its class.
The Durango offers three rows of seating, a range of 3.6-litre V6 24-valve VVT and 5.7-litre V8 HEMI MDS VVT engines and a choice of rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Over the years, the Durango has been known for its confident handling and composed, comfortable ride. Inside, the Durango offers an attractive and upscale design, with class-competitive quality and features.
The second and third rows offer enough room for most families. This seven-seater comes with more space than any other vehicle, including the best-in-class UConnect info entertainment system. The available Uconnect 8.4 features a class-exclusive 8.4-inch touchscreen, along with available Uconnect Access. The backseat makes everyone happy. Durango makes provision for you to pop in an available Blu-ray disc for your backseat passengers with the available class-exclusive nine-inch dual-screen Blu-ray and DVD entertainment system with High-Definition Media Interface (if requested).
The class-exclusive seven-inch Driver Information Digital Cluster Display and Uconnect System, to the Speed Control feature and even the iPhone mobile device and other compatible smart-phones, further enlarge the list. The keyless enter “n” go entry as well as the standard steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters give you complete control of the eight-speed automatic transmission.
Provided in the Nigerian market by Weststar Associates Ltd, the Durango features a class-exclusive LED racetrack tail lamp that consists of 192 individual LEDs blended to form one seamless ribbon of glowing red light. Projector headlamps with available LED daytime running lamps light up the road like a red carpet. Available auto-leveling technology adjusts the headlamp beams’ aim for slight changes in road surface elevation so the driver will know what is coming on. Available automatic high-beam control headlamps switch from high- to low-beams and back again, when oncoming light is sensed, while available low-beam triple headlamps enhance nighttime visibility.
The Citadel trim adds mostly appearance-based features to the Limited edition, including larger alloy wheels, dual exhaust (which raises the V6’s output by two horsepower), and Nappa leather upholstery. A power sunroof and navigation are also standard.
The performance-oriented R/T trim comes with a 360-horsepower V8 engine, a sport-tuned suspension, ventilated front seats, and perforated leather upholstery. A major standard feature for the Dodge Durango is the 18” aluminum wheels (with optional 20” wheels), fog lights, optional integrated roof rail crossbars as well as available heated side mirrors.
With over 60 safety and security features, the dodge Durango is a trusted bodyguard that is always on duty. Some key features include the adaptive cruise control with stop function, forward collision warning with active brake assist, electronic stability control, optional blind spot monitoring, Parkview Rear-Backup camera and park assist with stop function.
Available options at Weststar Associates – which has assured that all maintenance and parts replacement services are offered at its authorised workshops – are the Dodge Durango Citadel and R/T.
Road transporters raise bus fares by 40%
Road transport passengers will from this morning pay higher fares to various destinations across the country following the decision of inter-state bus operators to make the adjustment in response to the rising costs of keeping the vehicles on the road.
The transporters under the aegis of Association of Private Transport Company Owners of Nigeria (APTCON) made the announcement in a recent notice to its members.
The group said that it was constrained to mark up transport fares by 40 per cent because of the prevailing harsh operating business environment which has seen cost of operations rise by more than 80 per cent.
The association’s secretariat noted that it was compelled to implement the increase as the local economy was showing no signs of stability while international transactions were becoming increasingly difficult to close.
“As we are all aware, the global economy is currently facing a downturn that has greatly affected most countries in the world. As an industry, we are not exempt from the crisis as in recent months, our operating costs have risen significantly”, the group stated.
It would be recalled that luxury bus owners (Association Luxurious Buses owners of Nigeria (ALBON) had earlier announced an increase in bus fares by 35 per cent for all their routes effective June 10, 2016.
APTCON lamented that the biggest challenges facing its members were the price of fuelling, cost of spare parts for vehicle maintenance, unit cost of buses, diesel costs for powering terminals, Value Added Taxes (VAT) as well as increase in bank interest rates.
“These identified increments, to name but a few, have taken a significant toll on the revenue of private transport company owners across Nigeria”, the statement noted.
The group also noted that many of its members have expressed their inability to pay salaries much less run profitably, while some others have had to shut down operations completely.