Although the 14th edition of the Abuja Motor Fair organised by BKG Exhibitions Limited came to a close, Wednesday, at the Eagle Square in Abuja, It was a pot-pourri of fun and business, the premium motor show also offered some reflections on the state of the auto sector, writes OLAOLU OLUSINA
The 14th edition of the premium motor show in Africa, the Abuja International Motor Fair, organised by BKG Exhibitions Limited at the Eagle Square in Abuja, came to an end , Wednesday, after nine days of fun, business and networking by participants, visitors as well as stakeholders in the automotive sector .
The motor show , which opened penultimate Tuesday, 0ctober 16, was declared open officially by the Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Dr. Samuel Ortom, who represented Vice President Namadi Sambo at the occasion. The opening ceremony witnessed a parade of leading automobile brands in the country and was, indeed, a display of the latest brands in the country’s auto market. Leading automobile companies such as Weststar Associates, Toyota Nigeria Limited, Stallion Autos, Kia Motors, PAN Limited, CFAO Motors, NTM, Leventis Motors, among others, were on ground with all their brands. Lubricants manufacturers and other financial institutions such as Oando Oleum, Mobil, Mansard Assur, and others were also represented.
Representative of Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge in Nigeria, Weststar Associates Limited, made a good showing of all its brands as it made an incontrovertible statement with the Mercedes AMG SLS Roadster two-seater convertible , Mercedes 560 MLS , Jeep and the Dodge SUV , which were show-stoppers during the parade. Toyota Nigeria also lived up to expectation as the market leader in the country’s auto market with its arrays of award-winning and rugged brands such as the top-of-the-range Toyota Landcruiser VS, Camry , Corrolla, Prado and others with the TNL Managing Director, Chandrechenka Thampy, and other senior officials of the company on hand to assure Nigerians that Toyota means well for its customers. PAN Limited paraded its flagship, the Peugeot brand range as well as its new baby, the Alsvin Changam sedan at the fair. Corporate Affairs Manager, PAN Limited, Mallam Bashir Musa Usman, assured that PAN Limited was at the fair in its bid to satisfy the needs of its customers.
Beyond the fun, business and networking however, the event also offered an opportunity for stakeholders to reflect on the state of the auto industry in Nigeria. While speaking with journalists at the fair ground, Thampy called for more participation in the fair by other stakeholders just as he assured lovers of the Toyota brand in Nigeria that there was no cause for alarm over the recall of some Toyota range in the United States.
This came as the Assistant General Manager, CFAO Motors, Mr. Toyin Akingbogun, expressed satisfaction at the turn-out of auto companies at the event, saying the low-turnout of visitors at the first few days of the fair could be attributed to the fuel scarcity in Abuja and the state of the economy in general. However, with the mouth-watering incentives and discounts, the Chevrolet pavilion of CFAO Motors was a beehive of activities.
But the Regional Manager, Abuja, for the Kano-based NTM, Ismail Ndaba, whose company came to the fair with the new 15-seater NTM air-conditioned commuter bus and Sino trucks, lamented low patronage from the Federal Government, saying despite the ruggedness of locally-built vehicles, the government was busy patronising fully-built vehicles dealers. Though he complained of low turn-out of visitors, he was of the view that more people would turn out at the weekend.
Kia Motors also came to the show with seven of its brands namely the Kia Optima, Rio, Sorento, Mohave, Sportage, Carnival and K3000 Truck. Marketing Manager, Kia Motors, Kayode Adejumo, said his company was quite satisfied with visits to its stand because of the popularity of the Kia range of vehicles in Nigeria.
On his part, the Abuja Branch Manager, Stallion Autos, Arvind Sharma, was optimistic as his company made a return to the Abuja Motor Show after some years of absence. Parading the Hyundai, Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda, Porsche, Honda, Foton, Ssangyong and Asok Leyland buses at the fair, Sharma said “As the biggest importer of cars with nine brands, we must get the biggest space,” at the fair. Though he complained of the heat in Abuja during the event, which he said, may discourage visitors, he however suggested that the organisers should explore having the event over a period of two weekends, saying people turn out more at weekends than week days.
He expressed confidence that once the economy improves, the sector will also pick up. “Economy is the only challenge. Once it picks up, there won’t be problems. Individuals and corporates are biggest buyers now as government patronage has reduced by 50 percent with the market size shrinking,” he explained.
Without doubt, some gains have been made while some lessons have also been learnt for improvement on the next edition. Kudos must also be given to the organisers for sustaining the show despite daunting challenges. Aside the initial fear and panic expressed from the rain on the second day of the show, the event went on as planned with adequate security in place as the Managing Directors’ Forum which held at the NICON Luxury Hotel was another avenue for the participating managing directors and top government officials to brainstorm on issues concerning the industry.