Justin Ughene is Ford brand Manager, Coscharis Motors. Judging from his passion for Ford vehicles, he could be described as ‘Mr. Ford’.
During the 15th edition of the Lagos Motor Fair held recently, just before the launch of the 2021 Ford Explorer, Ughene spoke exclusively with Motoring World’s Lagos Bureau Chief, Rotimi Asher on Ford’s plans to have Nigerians drive brand new vehicles and what the government should do to improve the economy so that Nigerians can have disposable income to drive new vehicles.
How has the Ford brand faired in the last 12 months year?
After the last year’s Lagos Motor fair, we received a flood of enquiries. But I am sure you understand the nature of the Nigerian economy to date. In the economy, we have what we call effective and ineffective demand. I will say the demand of an average Nigerian, for now, is ineffective: willingness to buy the product but not backed by the ability to pay.
So, we have the enquiries. People are thirsty for having a new product. But the bottom line is that the economy is slow, which implies that traffic in the showroom has slowed down. The enquiries do not translate to actual sales. There is a lull, because of the purchasing power of the average Nigerians vis a vis ever-rising foreign exchange rate. It has impacted the prices of vehicles.
The most disturbing fact is the angle that most corporate organizations, which change their vehicles after three years have rescinded; increasing it to six or seven years.
We are currently running a promo on Ford Escape. It used to be N14 million. It is now N12 million because we have Nigerians in mind. We want Nigerians to drive new vehicles.
As we speak, there is a bank in Nigeria, which gives its managers only N1 million to buy a car. One million Naira can only buy Ford Figo. There is demand, but not backed with the ability to pay. It is an economic factor.
A lot of staff of various companies come to the showroom, but looking at the capital outlay that their organizations give them and some do not have the money to add up.
Before this administration, the exchange rate used to be N150 to the dollar. The Ford Edge, for example, was sold for N10 million. The same car now sells for N20 million. So, people that have the backup of their companies or banks in the past cannot afford the Edge anymore. Do you see where the problem is? There is a disparity between the actual amount their companies give to buy a car and the actual price of these cars.
What do you think the government should do to make cars affordable to Nigerians?
It is not the government alone. It should be car dealers and the government. We have set an example with Ford Escape. From N14 million, it’s been reduced to N12 million. These are without vat prices. If other dealers can do what Ford has done, coupled with the government managing the exchange rate well, prices of cars will drop to a level that people can afford.
Do you think the government can manage the exchange rate well when the nation import by far outweighs exports?
Quite frankly, the government is a continuum. This government needs to by now look at increasing our earnings in foreign exchange through ensuring emphasis on more export.
Secondly, they must handle insurgency to a level that the average investors will have confidence in the economy. If security improves, MDI will come in and the government increases its export earnings instead of depending on oil and power is fixed, things will work naturally. There is no other way to go about it.
How optimistic are that things will change for the better in the country?
Of course, I must say that government has their secret. They know what to do and I am sure they will eventually do the right thing.
What have you achieved with your participation at this year’s Lagos Motor Show?
We participated in the fair to sensitize the market; to inform our loyal and prospective customers of the prospect that Ford has in its offering. Look at the explorer, the body has changed, the Everest is more beautiful.
Mr. Babarinde is correct. Look at the Ford Explorer, the 2021 Explorer is the top range. The price is N30.5 million. If you compare this with others in its segment even the most popular, which is of less quality sells for between 35 and 37 million Naira? A close specification to Explorer sells for between 35 and 42 million Naira.
Look at Ford Everest compared with Fortuna. Fortuna sells for N28 million, Everest sells for N26.5 million. What about Escape in comparison with others. Kia Sportage sells for 17.5 million but Escape goes for just 12 million. So, Ford is what you can afford.
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