The Managing Director of Toyota Nigeria Limited (TNL), Mr. Kunle Ade-Ojo has said that the company would do all that was necessary to ensure high standards were maintained at its assembly plant.

Kunle Ade-Ojo said, “We’ll continuously ensure we improve the process of our assembling production to ensure that vehicles are assembled to the top-notch that Toyota vehicles are known with,” he said as he announced the first Hiace bus has been assembled at the plant.

He said the plant, which is located at Ikotun, a suburb of Lagos, has capacity of 20,000 to 30,000 unit vehicles per annum has all necessary equipment in place and has been visited by the NDDC, adding that vehicles rolled out from the plant would be competitively priced.

He said: “This is Test Assembly, just one unit of Toyota Hiace rolled out on December 10, 2015. Right now we are starting the Hiace but we have a multi-line Assembly plant, so in future we include other models.”

He said TNL would also train its technicians effectively in preparation for mass assembling of top-notch Toyota vehicles.

On the outlook of the auto sector, Kunle Ade-Ojo said it was challenging because of lack of forex. “Last year generally was bad for the auto industry; importation went down by 60 per cent and sales also went down by approximately 50 per cent. The reasons were the fall in naira, tariff on the vehicles, and the national elections did not really generate sales.

“These made the auto industry to drop significantly, and towards the third quarter the forex problem started and even up to now.”

According to him, Auto financing has also been down because of cost-cutting and retrenchment in banks, adding that individuals as well had lower capacity to purchase vehicles.

He stated that though there were adverts in the newspapers it did not generate that much sales. “What most people did was to cut down cost to sell. So there was drop in our market share but we didn’t let that deter us, at the end of the day we still emerged the best auto company in the country in sales. Right now we’re back to our rightful position, I think we are trading towards 30 per cent market share again.”

In his forecast he said looking at how the market has been it would further drop; “looking at 26,000 to 27,000 units, everybody is afraid and the reason we’re forecasting this figure is because of the scarcity of forex – we’re not able to do the units we used to,” he said.

However, he said if things were to improve TNL would have introduced the Toyota Conquest, but cannot because of forex scarcity, and stated that TNL would rather focus its strength on those models it is already doing well in because there would not be any point bringing in the goods when you are not doing well. “So we focus on those models we’re rooted in.”

He said there was also marginal decline in spare parts traceable to the forex because everything is connected.