Baring any hitches, Nigerians should begin to witness the result of the Federal Government’s automotive policy early this year as Nissan says it’s first made in Nigeria car will be rolled out this April.
Carlos Ghosn, the chief executive officer of Nissan Motors, announced this at an interactive audience granted by President Goodluck Jonathan to him (Ghosn) and representatives of Nissan’s partners in Nigeria on the sidelines of the ongoing World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, Thursday.
Nigeria is a major market for most cars manufactured in Asia, Europe and America with statistics from the Nigerian Automotive Manufacturers Association (NAMA), the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development indicating that a total of 400,000 vehicles (300,000 used and 100,000 new) valued at N550 billion (US$3.451 billion) were imported in 2012 alone.
President Jonathan had, while introducing the new Federal Government automotive policy, last year, declared that the automotive industry when fully operational has the potential of creating 70,000 skilled and semi-skilled jobs along with 210,000 indirect jobs in SMEs that will supply the assembly plants.
The Nissan Motor Company, makers of the Nissan brand of vehicles, quickly keyed into the project and announced that it was willing to set up automobile plant in Nigeria, in an industry that is capable of creating another 490,000 jobs in the raw material supply industry.
Ghosn informed President Jonathan that Nissan Motors is now ready to “roll-out the first made in Nigeria 4 X 4 Utility SUV in April this year using the old Volkswagen assembly plant owned by its partners”.
Ghosn, who said that it was possible to produce two to three million cars in Nigeria annually with the consequent creation of thousands of direct and indirect jobs, told the president that Nissan intends to increase its investment in Nigeria and establish its own vehicle production plant in the country.
He also applauded the Federal Government’s new automotive policy, saying that it would encourage the inflow of investments and technical expertise to boostdomestic vehicle production.
“We are interested in producing popular cars, totally adapted to the needs of Nigerians”, he said, adding that the company also plans to bring its global suppliers to make vehicle components in the country.
President Jonathan told his guests that a key objective of the new policy was to make new cars affordable to more Nigerians.
The president, in his response, noted that his administration is fully committed to rapidly developing Nigeria’s automobile industry through the diligent implementation of the country’s new national automotive policy.
“The only way to reduce the preponderance of second hand cars on our roads is to produce good quality cars with affordable pricing locally”, the president said.