Peugeot Automobile Nigeria (PAN) has concluded plans to restart operations in the country with 3,000 cars set to be rolled out in June.
In a chat with local business news platform BusinessDay, PAN’s MD/CEO Ibrahim Boyi noted that the restarting the company’s production plant was made possible majorly because of the automobile development policy that Nigeria unveiled last year.
“We are back in full…with the new auto development plan. I’m happy to announce it to you today that our plant will re-start activities in June this year,” he said, adding, “our customers can only be in for better service, better customer satisfaction and we are offering them excellent products today that will compete with any brand in the market.”
PAN made its manufacturing foray into Nigeria in 1971 after the country’s leader at the time, General Yakubu Gowon chose Peugeot out of the 16 reputable vehicle-manufacturing companies in the world invited to submit a proposal on establishing a vehicle assembly plant in the country.
The PAN MD said the restarting of the plant would create job opportunities, noting that the plant used to have 2,000 workers, which are now down to 250. More hands will be needed in the company’s new drive.
“We are in the process of recruiting new sales people because now we are regaining the market, we are re-building our market so we need to employ more people and this is the whole objective we have,” said Boyi, who noted however that most of the people who had left the company will be reabsorbed first as PAN needs people with skills,
Nigeria had on October 3, 2013 announced the introduction of a new automotive policy that would discourage importation of cars and encourage local production.
The oil-rich country’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, had allayed the fears of the country’s middle class, most of who cannot afford brand new cars, affirming that the “policy will not result in banning of the importation of vehicles in Nigeria but to focus on promoting investments in affordable made-in-Nigeria vehicles”.
Boyi identified affordability as an issue, but said the used vehicles (popularly known as “Tokunbo” in Nigeria) market, which constitutes 75 percent of car imports is what every local car manufacturer should target.
“The only way you can penetrate that market is through pricing. In giving them brand new cars, affordable prices, I can assure you we would all rise to that occasion,” said the MD of PAN.
Other car manufacturers including Kia, Nissan and Tata, have also signified interest to commence manufacturing in Nigeria.
It is expected that the influx of car manufacturing companies into Nigeria would reduce the cost of new cars in the country, create jobs and bolster economic growth.