A quick google search of Nigeria and cars would prove the relationship between Nigerians and used imported cars from Europe, this might just be good SEOs and regular ad payments, but it is still worth raising an eyebrow over.
In 2013, Nigeria was crowned the most expensive country to buy cars in West Africa and the survey also showed that a wide percentage represented the purchase of used cars.
It is no secret that due to the poor standard of living, a larger percentage of the country cannot afford new vehicles, no matter how affordable these vechiles seem to be, an average Nigerian can’t afford one; one has to take into consideration the roads which require jeeps and trucks — if you don’t want a heart attack at every pothole, comfort and the resale value. According to sources, Asian car brands like Hyundai and Kia lose value over a period of time [the resale value of a Kia automobile will be harder to sell at a price closer to its original value than a used Toyota] — cheaper is not always better, the availability of spare parts and the durability of the car is also a big factor and this tends to dissuade buyers.
A collage of their different models, aside not believing in the quality of products produced in Nigeria, people seem to be excited about the Innoson press release of their latest cars [release date set to be announced soon].
Thr company prides itself as being the first made in Nigeria car company; its first units rolled out in 2009 with a range of sedan, SUVs, pickUps, commercial buses, and has added 2 new cars to their production supply. Innoson wants to capitalize on the enormous automobile market in Africa by first eradicating the hyper reverence of foreign automobiles. While some of the parts are imported, the company makes about 60% of its parts in a factory in Nnewi, Anambra in Nigeria which has been corroborated by many people who have visited the factory [My dad included]. The sole objective of Innoson’s vehicles is focused on tackling the poor state of roads in the country [and Africa], low gas consumption and comfort.
The company challenges the mindset of nothing good being produced in the country to help the ‘buy the Naira to grow the economy‘ vision — well now is your chance.
Dr Chukwuma Innocent [Chairman Innoson Group] talked about making cars that are strong, long term, worthwhile saying; ;
I am going to launch a car in one month’s time that people can easily buy in Nigeria with small money. I am looking at about N3 million. The car will be big size, which will have air conditioning, automatic gear and other comforts that will make it easier for all. I am not just interested in the Nigerian market alone but the African market. I believe that anything you are doing do it well and if properly done it will market itself.
Nigeria automobile services operates on a ‘pay and carry’ process and taking loans tend to attract high interest rates [which happens rarely in Nigeria] compared to the international market. Innoson’s partnership with Sterling Bank counters this, as they’ve put in place an installmental payment system for people who can’t afford the car right off the bat by paying 25% down payment of the car you want and taking it home once payment is confirmed. Innoson motors also proposes a 12 month free servicing of cars.
The federal government will earn an additional N213.5 billion naira as duty payment from vehicle importation through the Nigerian seaport if the ban on importation through the land borders recently issued is implemented.’ – Nigerian Automotive Manufacturers Association.
Most Nigerians believe that buying and bringing used cars from neighbouring countries by themselves is cheaper than buying used vehicles in the country and although NAMA claims it’s the same value because what you pay the other countries borders is the same thing you pay in Nigeria, they have been proven wrong time and time again. Although trade is a form of relationship building, imagine how much stronger the economy would be if we purchased products from African companies like Innoson, a beautiful dream.
The Nigerian National Assembly also placed a ban on importation of products if they are already locally available and it will be interesting to see this put in play because they tend to patronize foreign companies [mostly Chinese] themselves, and this is why Innoson called them out in 2016 for contracting the Urban mass transit buses for improving the transportation sector to Yutong [Chinese car manufacturing company] for N5.5 billion when Innoson could have done it, citing that their buses were already in full operation in Enugu and people actually enjoyed riding in them.
Fun fact, Innoson’s technical partners are also the Chinese but they claim to be working to make it 100% Nigerian.
Innoson vehicles have visual similarities to other high end car brands due to lack of imagination, they aren’t challenging themselves enough, public opinion believes that the IVM GRANITE 80 and 40 look like a crossbreed between a Mercedes Benz G-class and a Jeep Grand Cherokee with a few modifications. This highlights the company’s need for fresh, young imaginative African minds to be able to give their automobiles a face and particular style to accompany the brand name. Innoson has come this far, creating a brand defying barriers but to move forward they need the ideas of young individuals who understand what Africa’s taste and culture feels like as they’re the ones shaping what it will be.
Brands like Benz, Jeep, and other European automobile makers created their brands by understanding their own craft design, creating a particular dynamic and aesthetic to how they produce each models taking in ideas from their environment and constantly reinventing to capture a youthful essence.
Innoson needs to embrace and identify this to move forward as more than just a car maker but an actual brand creating cars for everyone to enjoy and rally around.
Browsing through the price list, the statement by the Chairman to create cheap cars of quality under N3 million is yet to be fulfilled as only 3 buses are below N3 million; not civilian cars but buses, one 7 seater car at N2 million, one N4.5 million and the rest range from N5 million to N26 million + [both buses and civilian cars] I’m optimistic that there is more to come.
Innoson is also a company that takes to feedback and tries to improve on its manufacturing flaws, it boasts of improved clutch and gear systems, engine capacity and interior of its vehicles and hopes they continue to get better and serve the African taste even after 8 years and with that in mind, we suggest Nigerians and more Africans Believe in More African start-ups like Innoson making the impossible happen right here.
We need to purchase and have faith in their products, push them to be more by critiquing and supporting them as we all grow together to make this continent great.