By Rasheed Bisiriyu
Nissan says it has completed the first set of its sport utility vehicle Patrol assembled at its new plant in Lagos. The auto firm notes that it is first major manufacturer to build a car in Nigeria in response to the introduction of the new Nigeria Automotive Policy. “The inaugural vehicle, a Nissan Patrol, rolled off the production line at the Lagos assembly plant, marking a milestone in the company’s continued wave of expansion into high-growth markets,” it says, in a statement. It says the first “built in Nigeria for Nigerians” Nissan Patrol follows the signing last year of a Memorandum of Understanding for vehicle assembly in Lagos between the Renault-Nissan Alliance and West African conglomerate Stallion Group.
In addition to the Patrol, Nissan also plans to produce the Almera and NP300, starting in early May and followed by mass production in August. The statement says since the signing of the MoU, preparing for production in Nigeria to global production standards has been at a rapid pace, setting a new benchmark in responsiveness and organizational agility. It quotes Nissan’s Senior Vice-President and Chairman for the Africa, Middle East and India region, Mr. Takashi Hata, to have said, “For Nissan, Africa is our strategic growth driver. Demand for cars is growing quickly in African markets as demonstrated by the first model being produced a mere seven months after the announcement of the new automotive policy. By acting quickly to begin production in Nigeria, we are securing for ourselves first-mover advantage.”
The Nissan’s South Africa Managing Director, Mr. Mike Whitfield, who also heads the Nissan’s Sub Sahara Africa region, expresses delight with the successful launch of the first Patrol. He says, “Nissan was a pioneer in the foundation of the car industry in South Africa. Now we are once again at the forefront of manufacturing in Africa, this time in Nigeria where we see huge potential. We want to play our part in the economic growth of Nigeria and Africa.” The rollout of the first Nissan vehicle comes shortly after confirmation that Nigeria’s booming economy has now overtaken that of South Africa. It notes that Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country is pivotal to Nissan’s mid-term growth plan, which seeks to double sales on the continent by FY2016, up from 110,000 units at the end of FY2012. Nissan’s growth strategy in Africa gained momentum with the introduction this year of Nigeria’s new auto policy, aimed at stimulating development of the auto industry in the country.
“We are grateful to the Nigerian government for implementing automotive legislation that is conducive to investment and that was instrumental in our decision to open an assembly plant in partnership with the Stallion Group, already our exclusive distributor in Nigeria,” says Whitfield.