By THEODORE OPARA
Who is representing Nissan in Nigeria? This is one question players in the nation’s automobile sector are asking. Unconfirmed information has it that Nissan may have dumped Alliance Autos, a member of the revered CFAO Group.
Another unconfirmed account has it that the auto marketing giant, Stallion Group may have grabbed the brand with both hands.
Unfortunately, none of the companies mentioned is ready to speak on the position of Nissan in Nigeria currently. While efforts to reach Stallion, Managing Director, Mr. Parvir Singh proved abortive as his mobile phone was not going through an Alliance Auto source told Vanguard Motoring that he did not know if his company was still representing the Japanese second biggest automobile manufacturer.
Said he: “I don’t know about who is the Nissan representative in Nigeria for now. I am not competent to supply the answer may be you can find out from the Managing Director.” The source however refused to make available the phone number of the MD saying he does not have the phone number having lost his phone not quite long ago.
But if Alliance has lost the Nissan Franchise, it could be due to its declining sales in the last two years. Vanguard Motoring gathered that Nissan has not been satisfied with the performance of the brand in Nigeria in the last few years. With many models, both in the passenger and commercial vehicle segments, Nissan had expected to give Toyota a good run in the Nigeria market but this has not been so.
While Toyota sales rose from about 15,000 vehicles in 2011 to almost 20,000 units in 2012, accounting for 40 per cent of the total imported vehicles into Nigeria, Nissan dropped from 1,772 units in 2011 to 954 vehicles in 2012, accounting for about two per cent of the total vehicle import in Nigeria.
It could be recalled that a former Managing Director of Stallion Motors was employed by Alliance (Nissan) and he later returned to Stallion which many suspected must have been responsible for Stallion grabbing the franchise. “The former Managing Director who returned to Stallion must have pulled the string, the source told Vanguard Motoring.
With the brand under an aggressive auto marketing company like Stallion, Nissan should be rest assured that the fight to wrestle substantial market share from Toyota both in the passenger and commercial market segments has commenced. Nissan boasts about the same number of Sports Utility as Toyota as well as commercial vehicles. It has launched some exciting models in the last few years too.
The coming of Nissan under Stallion has raised another question in the auto sector. Would Toyota continue to dominate the Nigeria auto market given the fact that Nissan has what it takes to upstage Toyota? Only time can tell. Stallion had for long longed for a brand like Nissan with array of commercial vehicles to give Toyota a real fight in Nigeria
But it should be recalled that Nissan has been used to changing its partners in Nigeria. In the last decade, the company had appointed about three different representatives, if the appointment of Stallion is confirmed.
Once, the brand was freely brought in by any businessman who had the fund to do so, before it made SCOA Group the sole representative and it registered Nissan Nigeria Ltd to distribute the brand. Few years later, the Japanese car maker appointed CFAO one of the most respected auto marketing companies before the new appointment. Who knows, who the next franchise holder would be. Observers are watching.