By Theodore Opara
THE Managing Director of Toyota Nigeria Limited, Mr. Kunle Ade Ojo, has lamented the poor vehicle sales recorded in the country in the first quarter of the year which fell to an all time low of 2,000 vehicles within the period.
Briefing newsmen at their Lekki, Lagos office during their quarterly meeting, the managing director disclosed that the total sales figure of vehicles across the country including all brands stood at 2,000 units when compared to 5,500 vehicles sold within the same period in 2016.
He, therefore, forecast that given the way the industry was going, it would be difficult for all the car companies to sell 9,000 vehicle before the end of the year
He attributed the poor sales and import figure of vehicles to scarcity of foreign exchange, devaluation of the naira, high interest rate and high duty being paid by automobile companies in the country.
Ade-Ojo said, “The scarcity of foreign exchange, devaluation of the naira and the high interest rate coupled with the economic shortfall hiked prices of vehicles and crippled buying power of many buyers,” adding that 3500 units of vehicles were imported in the first quarter of 2016, while 350 units of vehicles were imported in the first quarter of 2017, the lowest in the last decade. Annual imiport vehicle figure before 2016 was between 50,000 to 100,000.
He added that even with recent efforts made by the government to tackle the forex challenge, the sector has not seen positive results, stressing that vehicles were being overvalued by customs official at ports of entry. “If we add everything we pay like VAT and other taxes, you will discover that the vehicle importer pays as much as 85 per cent duty on a single car,” noting that his company paid as much as N15m on one Land Cruiser vehicle.
Despite all the challenges, he said that Toyota still leads the market in terms of vehicle sales and import and attributed Toyota’s lead to quality of product, excellent after sales and availability of spare parts.
According to him, Toyota sold about 7,000 cars in 2015 and about 4,000 vehicles in 2016 to further its share from 24 per cent in 2015 to about 26 per cent in 2016. The total retail market in the country stood at 42, 000 in the country in 2015 and fell to about 15, 000 by the end of 2016 to indicate market drop of about 42 per cent.
Ade-Ojo added that vehicle import for 2015 was at 18, 000 but came down to 7, 000 in by the end of 2016. Despite the challenges in the market, the company has continued to lead the sector, importing 43 per cent of the vehicles in 2015 and in 2016 has share of 38 per cent.