By Theodore Opara
ANY moment from now, some European-made one tonne pick-up trucks will be entering the Nigerian market to challenge the Japanese and American brands which have dominated the market for some decades. Information available to Vanguard revealed that not less than three European made brands of pick-ups will be introduced into the market by Peugeot Automobile Nigeria, Weststar Associates, representative of Mercedes Benz and Fiat Chrysler in Nigeria by the first quarter of next year.
The Nigerian one tonne pick-up truck segment, over the years had been dominated by brands and models like Toyota, Hilux, Nissan Pick-up Hardbody and Mitsubishi L200. But not long ago, the American built Ford Ranger joined the market and was able to wrestle the pick-up of the year title from the traditional holder the Toyota Hilux. Since then, the segment has remained very competitive by the various brands with little challenge from the Chinese made pick-ups.
Top among European made pick-ups being expected include the Mercedes Benz X-class, the Fiat Fullback (both represented by Weststar Associates Limited) and the all new Peugeot Pick-up by PAN Nigeria Ltd.
Already, representatives of these brands in Nigeria are warming up to launch the models and even assemble them in the country despite the recession and the rough times being experienced by automobile dealerships across the country. This will be the first time that such a number of European-made pick-up trucks will be introduced into the Nigerian domestic automobile market.
Although, it is not clear if the models would be available in petrol versions, Vanguard gathered that the Nigerian representatives are making their inputs to the models that would be introduced into the country even, if they have to come in diesel engines. This is by ensuring that the diesel engines are able to withstand the quality of fuel in the country and weather condition.
The Pick-ups are unique in their own ways and fit into various uses by the customers, especially with their car-like bult quality. The Fiat Pick-up, also known as Fullback, looks striking, sporty and athletic. It is a mid-size pick-up with clever engineering that is ready to take on established models like the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi L200.
Based on Mitsubishi L200 chassis and drive train, the Fullback comes with a 2.4 litre petrol engine which delivers 97 kw and 202 Nm of power. This all-new powerful pick-up comes in single and double cabin with 4 x 4 and 4 x 2 drive train. It is also fully loaded with array of features like power windows, air conditioning system, central locking, ABS with EBD and raised suspension which means that it will not be afraid to take any terrain.
The Peugeot pick-up, however, is coming step into large shoes left by its predecessors, the 404 and 504 had left envious records in Nigeria as the most reliable and dependable pick-ups in Nigeria ever. But the fear here is that the all new Peugeot pick-up might be coming with diesel engine and may suffer what previous pick-ups from other brands suffer in Nigeria due to poor diesel.
The new pick-up which looks unmistakably a Peugeot, is available in a powerful 2.5 litre common rail turbo diesel engine and manual five-speed gearbox. Unlike its predecessors, it is available in 4 x 4 and 4 x 2 versions. It boasts of array of features such as airconditioning system, electric windows, radio with CD player, USB part, ABS is standard, rear packing aids, drive and passenger air bags etc.
The all new Mercedes Benz pick-up, however, is in a class of its own. It is luxury personified with a captivating design and typical Mercedes-Benz DNA. Mercedes Benz X-class pick-up is built for work and leisure and would appeal to customers who wish to stand out in the crowd.
Apart from the exceptional design, the renowned luxury vehicle maker had brought its wealth of experience in the manufacturing of luxury cars, buses and large and medium trucks to bear in the new pick-up. It parades class leading features and will change the rules in the one tonne pick-up segment.