Toyota Nigeria broke records in Nigeria yesterday (March 21) when it unveiled its first locally-assembled vehicle in Lagos. The Managing Director of Toyota Nigeria, Mr. Kunle Ade-Ojo, said the new unveiled vehicle, a Hiace bus, was assembled in the company’s plant in Lagos, built with 30,000-unit production capacity.
Mr. Ade-Ojo said the plant’s facility which comprises of two lines is expected to assemble mini buses, pickups and other light commercial vehicles. He added that the new vehicle was assembled as a test case, as the company make plans to begin its mass production soon.
“We need to introduce some changes to the plant so as to achieve efficiency in the operations. With the current economic situation, we are looking at starting the mass production in a couple of months.
“We are constantly training technicians and as far as the plant is concerned, we are assuring customers that we will continuously improve the assembling process of our vehicles to ensure that the vehicles meet international standards.”
He however emphasized that no automobile company is manufacturing any vehicle in Nigeria, stressing that “what everybody does is to assemble the parts as the parts are still shipped in from overseas.”
Last year, Toyota Nigeria disclosed its plan to establish a vehicle assembly plant in the country to join Nissan, Ford, Kia, Peugeot and a host of other auto firms already assembling vehicles locally. The plant, which occupies a 40,000 square meter of land, was built to handle different models.
This is coming about two and a half years after the announcement of the Automotive Industry Development Plan by the Federal Government, which raised the import duty on cars from 22 per cent to 70 per cent in order to discourage vehicle importation.
Few weeks ago Toyota Nigeria recalled 900 units of RAV4 produced between 2006 and 2012 to fix possible faulty real seat belts.
According to the managing director, the recall was an order from the mother company, Toyota Motor Corporation, as a proactive safety measure to avert danger to the lives of people occupying the back seats of the vehicle in the event of an accident.