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2016: Five Most Significant Events in Nigerian Auto Sector

Though about the quietest year ever for Nigerian auto industry, 2016 witnessed momentous developments in the nation’s struggling auto sector…


[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he just concluded year was tumultuous for the Nigerian auto industry. At a point, a sizeable number of stakeholders were at a dilemma as to President Muhammadu Buhari’s policy direction as it concerned the Nigerian auto policy.

Although things were so tough for the auto industry that most assemblers found it difficult to produce cars for sale, there was hardly a dull moment from January to December. The year witnessed what could be described as auto brands baton changes. There were moves, significant moves to save the soul of the industry.

There were intrigues. But essentially, there were five specific events that could rightly be said to be historical.

Indian Piaggio Brand Changes Hand

Piaggio Tricycle
Piaggio Tricycle

The year just ended witnessed Boulos Enterprises’ severing of relationship with Piaggio brand from India, only to be taken over by Kewalram Chanrai Group. To Boulos, the divorce was necessary, because, in Boulos’ management’s view, there is no future for tricycle in Nigeria. But to Kewalram Chanrai, it is a new door of investment opportunity. Call it a change of baton.

Ford- Briscoe Divorce

Similarly, Ford yanked off dealership from Nigeria’s pioneer Toyota dealer, RT Briscoe. Since it assumed  Ford’s franchise dealership, the company adopted BRISCOEFORD as a dealership name. That ended with 2016. Notwithstanding, the company assured its Ford owner customers that it would continue to provide first class after sales service for some years to come.

Meanwhile, as a result, Ford put an end to multi- franchise dealership in Nigeria, giving Coscharis Motors exclusive franchise dealership right in Nigeria.

Africa Auto Manufactures’ Significant Visit to Buhari

Suzuki Super Carriage Truck for which Boulos Nigeria set up auto manufacturing plant in 2016
Suzuki Super Carriage Truck for which Boulos Nigeria set up auto manufacturing plant in 2016

As the nation’s hurricane of recession blew and jolted Nigerian auto assemblers dangerously, the union of African Automobile manufacturers were in Nigeria on a solidarity visit, meeting with and making presentation to the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari on the best way to save the soul of Nigerian auto industry. That visit impacted positively on what would become Federal government’s attitude to the auto policy inherited from former President GoodLuck Jonathan’s regime.

Boulos Made History

For the first time, since established in Nigeria, Boulos Enterprises, a company known mainly for manufacturing of Suzuki Motorcycles in Nigeria, resolved to start manufacturing four

Innoson Vehicle manufacturing plant : Plant manager denied closure
Innoson Vehicle manufacturing plant : Plant manager denied closure

wheelers. Motoring World was first media house to visit the factory while still under construction within the company’s premises located along Acme Road, Ogba, Ikeja in Lagos State of Nigeria.

Innoson in Closure Controversy

Sometimes during the year, Innoson, a company claiming to be making true Nigerian car, was said to have closed down, no thanks to certain section of the media. The incidence yielded positive result for the company, as it did what it would not usually do, spoke to the media in denial of the reports.

Although the Nigerian auto maker confirmed retrenching a good number of its staff due to FOREX scarcity, it insisted that its factory gate had never been shut.

Closure of Land Border

The nation’s land border remained opened, but not to car importers. For the first time in the nation’s history, car importation became restricted only to sea Ports. Despite pressure mounted on the Federal government to reverse the policy, it took effect from January 1st 2016. As at press time, 100s of imported vehicles are said to be stuck in Benin Republic.

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