By Theodore Opara
Chairman of Toyota Nigeria Limited, Chief Michael Ade Ojo has disclosed that a Toyota assembly plant will be ready in Nigeria between July and August this year. Chief Ade Ojo, who spoke during the 2015 Toyota Awards at the Civic Centre in Lagos, assured customers that Toyota has come to stay in Nigeria and would never be pushed aside despite what he described as “temporary go slow.”
Although the Toyota boss did not disclose the models to be assembled in Nigeria by his company, he said: “We are taking measures to make available to you, your loved Toyota models. We have started on an assembly, which, from all business parameters, we were convince that it was not the wisest way to go but we have to sustain our business.
You must have been denied your cherished brand, but by the grace of God you will again enjoy the best models in the Toyota brand line-up.”
Chief Ade Ojo, while regretting the high cost of automobiles resulting from the introduction of new auto policy which raised the duty paid on imported vehicles from 20 to 70 percent and the exchange rate of the naira against other currencies, noted that government favoured some autombile companies against the others.
According to him, “it is like our brand and some other brands have been targetted and others favoured.” He told the customers, which included banks, corporate organisations and individuals present at the award venue, that they were having a common problem occasioned by the introduction of auto policy, which had brought concern to both the company and the customers.
“Government has increased duty from 20 to 70 per cent i.e 35 per cent duty and 35 per cent levy. This, to us as your suppliers, there is no doubt that this kind of painful addition to the cost, definitely means that less people can afford to buy new vehicles,” he said. He further noted that they (Toyota) were not opposed to new government auto policy, but with the way it was introduced and executed.
According to him, they were told that if they don’t open Form M within a certain period, they will pay 35 levy. But that they discovered that a particular company, which he couldn’t mention had opened Form M for 15,000 vehicles. This company, he said sold less than 2,000 vehicles the previous year.
He said that they shouted and complained and government did not listen to them. This particular company, he disclosed brought in their 15,000 vehicles early in the year while others were at a loss. Continuing, the Toyota boss said that they order vehicles every month but it takes five months to get their vehicles delivered. So they couldn’t do anything because Toyota Motor Corporation does not produce vehicles and keep.
After the five months, he said could not the policy kicked off which made their prices to go up. “We could only manage to bring in vehicles for seven months, which could not incure new levy.” We were also visited by unexpected happening when the depreciation in the value of naira against the dollar hit the country,” he said.
He recalled that even when they complained that the policy was not fair to all concerned, there was no response, while this particular dealer that brought in 15,000 units was still selling its vehicles. “We were able to maintain our price one year after and this affected the brand as the customers were denied their Toyota cars,” he added.
However, the good news, he said, is that Toyota is taking measures to make available the Toyota cars to the customers with the completion of an assembly plant in July this year, adding “you must have been denied, but by the grace of God, you will again enjoy the best brand Toyota.” “We are not prepared to run away from our country. It is those who are making things difficult that will run away.”
Looking back, he said that Toyota Nigeria, not long ago, introduced the new Yaris, Corolla and Hilux pick up; manual and automatic transmission, as well as the executive version of Hiace with 10 seats.