Bright Future Ahead? Government initiatives shed some new light on cars 'Made in Nigeria'

New regulation tries to revitalise domestic car production

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Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo test the new Nissan automobile built in Nigeria play

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo test the new Nissan automobile built in Nigeria

(TopCheck)
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The car industry in Nigeria is presently in a sorry state. Most cars in the country are currently imported either as brand new cars or as 'tokunbo' (second-hand).

Back in the late 1970's Nigeria had a very active domestic car industry, which stemmed from partnerships between the Nigerian government and foreign car manufacturers. Of the six local automotive assembly plants established at that time, two produced cars while the other four factories manufactured trucks and other automotives. The two car assembly plants were operated by Volkswagen of Nigeria Limited (VWON) in Lagos, and Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Limited in Kaduna.

Unfortunately, due to their inability to keep abreast of rapid technological advancements all manufacturing plants became uncompetitive soon after their establishment. Increased inflation also contributed to the collapse, so people started opting for the much cheaper second-hand cars.

Nowadays the car industry in Nigeria faces a new glimmer of hope as the government's introduction of a new automotive policy seeks to re-activate local car assembly plants and encourage local production of cars again. The aim is to set Nigeria on the path to becoming one of the major manufacturing hubs in sub-Saharan Africa again.

The implementation of the new policy is now gaining full traction. In 2014, Nissan has announced as the first international car manufacturer to establish a car assembly plant in Nigeria and completed its first 'built in Nigeria' vehicle, a black Nissan patrol, at the company's Lagos assembly plant later in that year. Currently the plant is used to produce three models: The Patrol, Almera, and NP300.

Although no other international automobile manufacturer has joined the game, the growth potential of the car industry in Nigeria remains strong. The government is confident that with the country’s enormous growth potential it is going to attract other Western companies as well.

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