By Theodore Opara
Koncept Autocentre Limited, representatives of Isuzu brand in Nigeria has disclosed that the Isuzu brand will commence production of its light trucks in Nigeria by the second quarter of next year. Mr Victor Eborajolo, Director of Koncept Autocentre, said that the company was at the final stage of completing the assembly line at its Isolo Lagos premises.
He made the disclosure at the just-concluded Lagos International Trade fair with the visiting Isuzu team from Japan led by Keisuke Shimoyama. According to the Koncept Autocentre boss, the time had come for the Isuzu brand to regain its lost position in the Nigerian market, especially with the setting up of a plant in Nigeria.
He recalled that many years ago, the Isuzu brand was the preferred pick-up for many Nigerians but slid due to lack of after-sales support by the distributors, a situation he said, his company had already addressed. According to Mr Eborajolo, Koncept Autocentre started plans for the new assembly plant last year and had since been having discussions with Isuzu Japan and General Motors, South Africa to make the plant a world class assembly line.
“Already, we have the license from the Nigerian Automotive Development and Design. We have finalized the models and logistics to processes and the assembly line construction is going on at the moment,” he said.
“As a revered Japanese brand, we have to follow due processes and standards before the Isuzu brand would be approved for production in the plant,” he stated, adding that Isuzu has to make sure that everything in the plant is of Isuzu International standard.
Meanwhile, the Koncept Autocentre Director had thumbed up the Federal Government on the national auto policy, which he said would help in revolutionizing the Nigerian auto industry. “We are confident that the policy will work. We know the present government is not the one that will abandon a good policy,” he said.
According to him, their confidence in the policy necessitated the huge investment they are making in the project. He however regretted that some stakeholders in the auto industry were throwing spanners in the wheel of progress for the survival of the auto policy.
“Those who are benefitting from importing fully-built units (automobiles) are spending money publishing that the policy should not work,” he said. Urging this category of auto dealer to exercise caution, he noted that “when you want to introduce a change in a society, it is usually not very easy because those who are benefitting from old order will kick against it.”
Meanwhile the leader of the Japanese team from Isuzu Mr Keisuke Shimoyama expressed confidence in their partnership with Koncept Autocentre, describing Nigeria as a very important market to Isuzu. In his remarks, the General Manager Koncept Autocentre, Mr Gaurav Kaul expressed satisfaction with the growth of Isuzu in Nigeria in the last one year, saying that they had already taken seven per cent of the light truck market share in Nigeria despite the challenges in the auto sector presently.
According to him, Isuzu has come to stay in Nigeria, just like the Kewalram Chanrai Group ( Owners of Koncept Autocentre) which has been in Nigeria for more than 110 years.
“Isuzu is doing well considering the challenges in the country presently. There has been massive increase of Isuzu trucks on Nigerian roads,” he said, adding that when the plant becomes operational in Nigeria, there will be possibility of exporting the vehicles outside the country.