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Flying the Flag


News » Lifestyle
Nigeria

August.08.2014

What started only as a dream is now, gradually, becoming a reality. What many described as ‘pure fantasy’ has now worn the cloak of truth: that Nigerians would start manufacturing cars locally, talk less of exporting these cars to other countries, was seen by many as ‘foolish talk’, due to the economic and political problems assailing the nation. However, problems notwithstanding, history has been made.

With the introduction of Fox Sedan and Amazon car brands by the Innoson Vehicles Manufacturing Company into the Nigerian and West African markets, with a price range from N500,000,  N1million to N3million, Nigeria has joined the elite club of motor manufacturing countries like the United States and Japan.


Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM) Company Limited, incorporated in 2007, is based in Nnewi, Anambra State, and run by one of Nigeria’s most important industrialist and businessman, Innoson Chukwuma, who built his large fortune from the scratch.

According to the company’s website: “IVM introduces automotive products from China, Japan and Germany. Its product line includes heavy duty vehicles, middle and high level buses, special environment friendly vehicles. The company carries out optimization design and assembly according to West African road conditions so as produce suitable products at affordable prices.

“The company also provides good services for repairs and parts supply. All these actions are engineered to meet the customers' special requests, attain the highest possible performance and safety standards and also make the vehicles suitable for the West African market.”

There are also strong indications that in no distant time, IVM would start exporting its passenger cars to West African countries like Republic of Benin and Ghana among others. Already, plans are underway to roll out the new brands from the company’s plant in Nnewi.
It should be noted that IVM was commissioned by President Goodluck Jonathan, whose administration, obviously, has worked assiduously to improve the country’s motor manufacturing industry.
According to an Abuja resident, Chukwudi Enekwechi who has followed the implementation of the new auto-policy of the government, Nigerians are in for a better days.

He said: “This innovation of introducing affordable new cars is commendable considering the problems of environmental pollution which fairly used cars pose to our society. The health hazards inherent in the gaseous emissions of fairly used cars in Nigeria are obviously uncountable, but the most notable, according to health experts is cancer of the lung. Therefore, government’s plan to gradually prohibit the importation of fairly used vehicles or what we know as “Tokunbo” will not only aid the survival of local auto manufacturing companies like INNOSON, but will help to reduce the perilous impact of hazardous environmental pollution.”

He added: “By the roll-out of these latest products, Innoson has proven its readiness to be in the lead in supporting Federal Government’s policy on automotive sector. Their courageous move to initiate local manufacture of cars, trucks, buses and other brands within the country is both laudable and patriotic.


“It must be noted that they are the first indigenous Nigerian company to manufacture a truly indigenous brand, whereas other companies are merely replicating the monogram of other foreign brands.

Indeed, for Nigeria to gain a pride of place among auto manufacturing countries, INNOSON brand deserves full government patronage and support, and this way other indigenous innovations in the automobile sector will begin to manifest.”
Noting that the efforts of IVM were a source of national pride, Enekwechi called for public and government support in terms of patronage of locally manufactured vehicles.

According to him: “This is unarguably a demonstration of national pride, and for once Nigeria’s “Giant of Africa” status will be backed with concrete evidence of our ability as a people to expand the frontiers of human knowledge and capacity to do the unimaginable.

“Agreeably, different countries are notable with car brands as exemplified above and these brands represent the image of those countries. In Nigeria, it is gratifying that Innoson has chosen to make the nation proud by initiating moves to start exporting Nigeria’s brand to neighboring African Countries like Ghana, Benin Republic, Sierra Leone, Togo, Liberia, Niger, Chad and others.

“This uncommon achievement calls for the support of all stakeholders, especially the government and general public by ensuring patronage of our first indigenous local brand, as it will not only create numerous job opportunities, but would unleash a gale of other innovative possibilities by Nigerians in other areas.”

With a long term vision to assist Nigerians drive brand new cars, Innocent has always been at the forefront of manufacturing wholly made in Nigeria brands. During the motorcycle boom, he was one of the first persons who started to manufacture new motorcycles in the country at a cheaper rate, compared to the imported fairly used ones.

In an interview he reminisced: “I found out that the motorcycles from Leventis were expensive because they were only able to pack forty units into a 40-foot container. Because of the experience I had in motorcycle spare parts, I went there and asked them to strip it down to pieces.

“That way I was able to pack over 200 units of motorcycles into the same 40-foot container, while others were packing 30, 40 pieces. I will bring the spare parts down here and couple them manually. Because of my experience in motorcycles I found it very easy.

“All I had to do was hire some boys and mechanics and I taught them how to couple them back. That time (around 1987) they were selling a single unit of motorcycles for N150,000. I was the first person that brought Jingcheng in Nigeria. Jingcheng is Suzuki equivalent from China Jiachi is Yamaha equivalent, nothing different.

“Later I decided to brand my motorcycles ‘Innoson’. I coupled them manually and sold them for N70,000 to N80,000. The first one I bought took me about three months to sell because people were not sure of the quality of my brands.”

However, after state governments started taking out motorcycles as a mode of public transit, Innocent decided to go into the business of manufacturing vehicles, locally. “I did not go into motors overnight,” he said. “It took me at least seven years before I moved into it. I looked at motor and I decided that they can ban motorcycles but no one will ban motor. I travelled overseas more than six times to study and come up about how to produce motor here in Nigeria. I visited motor factories in America, Japan, Taiwan and China. I am a very amiable customer, and so, I was allowed to visit these factories and I was asking questions though they did not know what I had in my mind.”

Chukwuma has continuously applauded the automotive policies of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, one of which was the introduction and development of the Nigerian Automobile Industry Development Plan. He is of the view that with the policy, Nigeria will in the near future compete favorably with other auto manufacturing countries like America known with Ford and Chevrolet, India known with Tata and Maruti, and Malaysia synonymous with Proton.

His dream is that as soon as the cars start tumbling out of the factory, he will push towards making second hand vehicles (popularly called tokunbo cars) unviable in Nigeria.

He said: “You see how Tokunbo Motorcycles went? Is anybody talking about it anymore? The only thing it will take for Tokunbo car to go from Nigeria is price. Make it cheap and affordable; make the spare-parts available, and Tokunbo will go. Who will like to buy an old car when he or she can spend less and by brand new?”

The Innoson boss praised the Nigerian government’s introduction of the Nigerian Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) which, among other things, calls for more patronage of vehicles made in Nigeria. He described the policy as a game changer, emphasizing the impact it will have on fostering the growth and development of the local auto industry even as he remarked that the Innoson manufacturing plant was set up long before the introduction of the auto policy at a time when importation of vehicles made for a more profitable business venture than building such vehicles from scratch.

Chukwuma called for Nigerians to patronise products of Innosson Vehicle Manufacturing Company (IVM) as it symbolises the local auto industry been driven by the new auto policy.

“Innoson is the only auto brand name that you cannot get anywhere else in the world except in Nigeria… In America, they are proud of their Ford and Chevrolet; In India, Tata and Maruti are respected, promoted and patronized by both the government and citizens and in Malaysia, Protom which is also indigenous to the country is loved as the national car brand”,

“If you go to Europe, America and Asia or anywhere outside this country, you won’t see any vehicle called Innoson because the name does not exist in any other place in the world except here,” he said.

Article Credit: Thisdaylive

Updated 3 Years ago
 

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Tags:     Fox Sedan and Amazon Car Brand     Innoson Vehicles Manufacturing Company     Chukwudi Enekwechi

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