By Theodore Opara
DESPITE the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, foremost automobile distributor in Nigeria, Lanre Shittu Motors, has started rolling out one-tonne pickup vehicles from its assembly plant located along Oshodi-Apapa Expressway.
The automobile distributor, which made Mack and JAC trucks household names in Nigeria, has brought its experience in the production of trucks to bear in the assembling of the new one-tonne truck which will compete in the same segment with Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi L200 and Ford Ranger.
Presenting the first batch of the pick-up assembled in their plant to Vanguard Motoring, the Group Executive Director, Lanre Shittu Motors, Mr. Taiwo Shittu described the vehicle as a workhorse for people who desire quality trucks for their businesses or families.
Named Leopard, the pick-up looks agile and trendy yet with five-star performance on any terrain.
He said: “The pickup performs like its name, either in the jungle or tarred road. It is strong, durable, safe powerful, comfortable with beautiful design and can match the very best you can find anywhere in the world.”
Explaining the reason behind the introduction of the pick-up by his company, Taiwo said: “Our over 40 years experience in the nation’s automotive industry has taught us so much about the sector and we understand the needs of the customers.
“The introduction of the pick-up is our response to the yearnings of our numerous customers for quality pickups at affordable prices. The Leopard is the answer to this because it has got anything a customer needs in the pickup segment.”
He explained that the pickup has been built following high demand by Nigerians as regard the weather, comfort, road condition esthetics and general environment in the country, adding that it is available in double and single cabin with leather seats, reverse camera, alloy rims, CD players, MP player, air conditioning system among others. Even with all these features, he said, the Leopard is competitively priced.
“We can match any pickup in terms of quality and performance, but outclass them with competitive pricing. The Leopard is one of the most revered pickups brands in China because of its relationship with the Chinese military.
“The brand is one of the official pickup builders for the Chinese military over the years which is reflected in its quality and rugged nature. Even the weight of the vehicle says it all. For a vehicle brand to be accepted by the Chinese military is a testimony to its top quality and durability”, he stated.
Complementing the group managing director’s position on the new pickup, Lanre Shittu Motors Factory Manager in charge of the plant, Mr. Ejaz Mugal said: “We carefully selected a pickup that will give the best performance to customers at very low maintenance cost, and for the past two years we have been testing the pickup and finally come up with something unique for the market.
“The 2.7 liter-engine Leopard will meet everything you throw at it.”
He, however, disclosed that the vehicle will be officially launched to the public as soon as the lift on intercity travel is unbanned.
His words: “It will be the best pickup ever launched in this country and it shall be competitively priced with good after-sales backup nationwide, which our company is known for. The Leopard has what it takes to match and surpass competition in its segment. It has pedigree, coming from the GAC family in China with Toyota technology.”
Meanwhile, the Lanre Motors group executive director has said that their commitment to the development of Nigeria auto industry under the leadership of Mr. Aliyu Jelani is unshakable.
“We have made over 50 million dollar investment in the sector and still investing because we believe that the Federal Government is genuinely committed to the development of the auto industry,” he said.
According to him, his company went straight into the production of the pickup because it has keyed into the Federal Government’s auto policy under the experienced director-general, who understands what it takes to build a competitive auto sector.