[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ate last year, Motoring World International’s editorial team, led by Lagos Bureau Chief, ROTIMI ASHER, paid a courtesy visit to FAW Assembly plant in Lagos and had an exclusive chat with the company’s General Manager, Mr. Adrian Fourie. He hinted on an issue that throws a challenge at other Nigerian auto makers.
Motoring World: What informed your decision to set up a plant in Nigeria?
Fourie: Because we feel there is a huge market for truck vehicle manufacturer, especially international brand and good quality ones in Nigeria.
Motoring World: What about your target market?
Fourie: Our targets are FMCG, oil and gas, construction and others.
Motoring World: And your plant’s capacity utilization?
Fourie: Currently we can assemble up to 1000 vehicles a year.
Motoring World: Certain stakeholders have expressed the beliefs that Nigeria is not ripe for the auto manufacturing, because the country does not have in place what, to them, are necessary infrastructure. As an investor from South African, you seem to have a different view, if yes, why?
Fourie: As a serious investor, if you find out you are having a problem with infrastructure, power for instance; all you need to do is create yours. We generate our power and even water; we are self sufficient. We don’t have to run on government infrastructure.
Motoring World: Whaoh! You sound so confident, what is unique about the brand, FAW?
Fourie: FAW is the number one selling truck vehicle in China. They were just late in Nigeria. Sounatruck came here first, FAW came second. FAW will outclass Sounatruck next year. It’s because of the quality. Our quality is forever. It’s original brand.
Motoring World: Obviously, you have competitors. What market share are you targeting?
Fourie: It’s very difficult to say. We have not really set target. We just want to establish ourselves. I think may be in the next five years, we can start shooting for certain percentage. We just want to see our vehicles on the road. We want people to see our vehicles. We want to start developing a good name for ourselves. Once we have done that, we will start shooting for certain market share.
Motoring World: In terms of spread, what is your plan?
Fourie: We have Kano, Abuja, Kaduna, and Porthacourt, all in our plan in the next five to six years.
Motoring World: How many showrooms have you got at the moment?
Fourie: This is the first showroom, Kano will open next.
Motoring World: Do you love cars?
Fourie: Of course, I have been in this carrier for twenty-twenty five years.
Motoring World: What are the things you love to do with cars? Let me put it this way. Do you love cars and what kind of car?
Fourie: I love Mercedes, I drive Mercedes MB
Motoring World: For how long have you been driving?
Fourie: I have been driving since I was eighteen. I have been driving for about twenty five –twenty six years
Motoring World: Can you remember your best experience on wheel?
Fourie: It is not something I like to share.
Motoring World: Is there any other thing you want to tell us about the company that we didn’t ask you about?
Fourie: People need to take note that we are here to stay. We will assemble the best quality we can assemble. We will sell what we can afford to sell. We assemble an SKD, in the next six years, CKD. We already broke a deal on our CKD plant. We are serious, and we are here to set up proper business, proper infrastructure, assembly plant, spare parts. We have invested heavily on spare parts even after sales service. Workshop and spare parts must be appropriate. We find out what the vehicles in Nigeria require. We believe we know what we need to supply. Whatever we need we will do our best to get them.
Motoring World: You must be having plan toward adding local content?
Fourie: On SKD, we need no local requirement for local content, but for CKD, we are certainly going to look at possibly doing tyres assembly or tyre manufacturing arm.
Motoring World: Does your company do tyre manufacturing?
Fourie: It’s something we are thinking about. There are other areas we are focusing on local content. When we are ready we will let you know.
Motoring World: How did you get into the auto industry personally?
Fourie: I was in the military and then I worked with Mercedes in South Africa.
Motoring World: What does the future hold for your organization here? How optimistic are you?
Fourie: We are actually optimistic. We have to resolve the issue of the dollar. Right now we cannot import any of our truck. If we have truck, we will assemble ready for sales. We can’t import truck now which is a big problem. But we are optimistic of the future.