By Theodore Opara
THE Nigerian automotive sector is not enjoying the best of times. This perhaps must have explained the reason why only the best and well engineered products can make it in the Nigerian market these days.
The reality of time has shown that even the best of products does not get anywhere unles it is presented to the Nigerian public. For this reason, Toyota Nigeria Limited, distributors of Toyota brand in Nigeria took the Toyota Hilux to Abuja to demonstrate its capabilities to the Nigerian Armed Forces and prospective customers.
The Toyota Hilux which is the reigning Pickup of the Year in Nigeria, an honour it has won more than any other Pickup in the country, showed its strength on all terrains.
The 2.7-litre powered Pickup which comes in different variants including single and double cabins, manual and automatic transmissions, as well as front and four-wheel drives, surpassed visitors’ expectations at the test ground.
In a chat with Mrs. Buky Ogunusi, of Toyota Nigeria Limited, at the test drive ground, she said the new Hilux has been built with a number of new features that will make the vehicle conquer any kind of terrain without compromising owner’s comfort.
One of the new features of the vehicle that elicited positive response from many Nigerian pickup fans at the Abuja test drive for the new generation Hilux is the new way of engaging the four-by- four.
Superlative performance of the vehicle
The turnout at the testing ground was quite high. Old and prospective customers that attended the exclusive Hilux show were excited by the superlative performance of the vehicle, particularly the switch system of engaging the four-wheel drive instead of the traditional auxiliary gears.
Explaining the reason for the demonstration, Mrs. Ogunusi said, it was carried out “with a clear objective of showcasing the traditional strength of the Hilux and the unique selling points of the model.”
The event was designed to show the motoring public once again the uniqueness of the brand in terms of its ruggedness and durability as the model has evolved over the years as a model to beat in the segment both in product development and brand visibility.
Three units of the Hilux were released for the test drive, which was done on different terrains configured as road tracks. This was meant to make the people experience the vehicle under different road conditions in the country.
Every driver that participated in the Hilux test drive was made to move the vehicle from a smooth road to a rough stony terrain, sandy road, marshy environment, hilly terrain and road with deep potholes. At the end they had beautiful stories to tell. While some were excited about the comfort, other talked about the handling on the different terrain as well as the safety features.
Toyota invited representatives of the armed forces, the Nigeria Police Force, fast moving consumer goods industry, construction industry and non-governmental organisations, among other main users of the pickups to be part of the event.
Having discovered that most of the activities of these companies in Nigeria were usually carried out in difficult and tough terrains, Toyota use the opportunity to show the participants how to get the best out of their Hilux vehicles through the first day of the event witnessed an average turnout of invitees with dealers’ representatives in attendance, the last two days witness a higher turnout.
‘’Customer were driven through the configured terrains with the distinctive features of the new generation Hilux expected from a four-wheeler in the Hilux.”
The second day of the event recorded a significant turnout of fleet customers with officers and men of the armed forces attending.
Fleet buyers from the Force Headquarters and other corporate bodies were also on the ground as they came early enough to see the demonstration of the vehicle on the configured track. Most of them also took turns to drive the vehicle to confirm its strength and extent of ruggedness.
Of particular interest was the test drive by the men of the army headquarters who were taken on the drive in batches.
The third day of the event had officers of the Federal Road Safety Corps who were said to be quite impressed with the performance of the Hilux as it was adjudged to be of very high safety standard.
Representatives of other organisations such as the National Ecological Fund , Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and National Aids Control Agency were around to test the performance of the vehicle under tough road conditions.
All the dealers’ representatives present at the event received product knowledge training from the TNL marketing department on each day of the event.
Annual, Toyota Nigeria takes time to educate customer on the features and capability of the Hilux which has been adjudge the best Pickup in Nigeria going by the awards it has won in the country over the years.