…Forecasts Poor Sales in 2016
By: FRANK BOYEDE (Automotive Business Editor)
Less than 12 months after its inauguration, Kia automobile plant in Nigeria has assembled 9000 vehicles, which it sold into the nation’s auto market.
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he company’s Managing Director, Mr. Jacky Hathiramani made the disclosure last week in an exclusive interview with Motoring World International.
According to him, Kia succeeded in slicing a market share of 27% of the total vehicles sold in the country last year.
“However,” he lamented, “since the beginning of the year 2016, our sales performance has been very poor, due to the nation’s hash economic conditions.
“Principal among the challenges we face has been lack of adequate FOREX to procure the kits needed to feed our assembly plant, a situation triggered by prize crash in the world oil market.”
Considering his company’s experience in the first quarter of the year and the persisting economic situation in the country since the beginning of the second quarter, Mr. Hathiramani projected a sharp drop in production and sales volume of Kia brand in Nigeria by as much as 50% of what was recorded in 2015.
Notwithstanding, he reiterated his company’s unwavering commitment towards joining hands with relevant authorities to make Nigeria a manufacturing hub of Africa.
It would be recalled that Kia unveiled and commissioned its first ever automobile assembly plant in Nigeria early 2015. The plant which has capacity to produce 27,000 vehicles annually with a provision to increase the production lines, depending on the demand, has since been rolling out various world acclaimed Kia models, including its best-selling Kia Rio, Soul, Cerato, Optima, Sportage and Sorento and indeed Quoris, a bullet-proof luxury sedan.
In a statement last year, Mr Hathiramani made it clear that his company’s move to establish an assembly plant in Nigeria stemmed off the tide of investment aimed at Nigeria and also keying into the country’s automotive policy.
“We are committed to making Nigeria a leading auto manufacturing country in Africa and also to contribute immensely to the development of the nation through this multi-billion Naira investment,” he stressed, adding “With opening of our plant in Lagos, we have taken our growth commitment to a greater height in Nigeria and repositioned our brand to the teeming publics by supporting the proudly Nigeria dream.”
In a related development, the company’s Chief Commercial officer (CCO), Mr Sandeep Malhotra, revealed recently Kia Nigeria’s plan to make Kia brand a true Nigerian vehicle by eventually adding up to 90% of local content. The plan, according to Malhotra, was motivated by his company’s interest in advancing Nigeria’s economy, coupled with increased acceptability of Kia brand in Nigeria in the last decade.
“Despite its myriad of challenges,” he stressed, “the country promises a large economy of scale, hence it is incumbent upon us as a local investor to help her realise its goals.”
Despite the current difficulties facing the nation’s industrial sector, With its built-from-scratch assembly chain firmly in place and over a year of Semi-Knocked-Down (SKD) production phase under its belt, Kia Motors Nigeria is now focused on the local content utilization in its made in Nigeria Kia cars.