Excitement as TATA Unveils 200th Locally Assembled Vehicle

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The Nigerian Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) or automotive policy, last week, recorded another milestone when Tata Africa Services (Nigeria) Limited rolled out the 200th locally assembled Tata-badged vehicle in collaboration with its partner, Iron Products Industries Ltd.

It was indeed a celebrative atmosphere at the IPI Ltd in Ikotun, Lagos, as auto industry chieftains, including the Director, Industrial Infrastructure, National Automotive Design and Development Council {NADDC], welcomed the garlanded TATA 16-18C light truck at the plant.

In a symbolic gesture, the dummy key to the 200th TATA truck was presented to one of the brand’s loyal corporate customers, Cobil Nigeria Limited. The Managing Director, Mrs. O. F. Iloanusi, and one of the directors, D. Iloanusi, received the key to the TATA truck on behalf of Cobil.

Predictably, both TATA and IPI management used the unveiling ceremony to reiterate their commitment to the development of the local auto industry through the production of good quality vehicles designed to meet the needs of the local market.

While assuring that increase in local content would lead to more competitively priced vehicles, the partners called for increased encouragement for the industry and the elimination of impediments to growth and development, including the influx of used vehicles.  

In his remarks, the Head of the Auto Division, Tata Africa Services (Nigeria), Suraj Prakash, assured the guests that in producing its vehicles in Nigeria, the fourth largest trucks maker in the world, would continue to pursue a local content programme that would ensure competitive pricing.

“TATA Motors has a strong presence in Nigeria with investment of over 10 million dollars. We started assembly in 2016 in Nigeria which was well received by Nigerians.

“Our vehicles are well assembled and cost effective and it is better. Our vehicles are durable, up to standard and made for the Nigerian terrain. We will like to have more of government’s support on automobile policy because importation of tokunbo {second-hand} vehicles is of great disadvantage.

“Our vehicles are not expensive because most of the materials are sourced locally, so the cars are cost effective,’’ he said. 

The Managing Director of IPI Ltd, Nunu Diwan, disclosed that his company which is the leader in steel fabrication in the country, went into partnership with TATA Motors, following the introduction of the auto policy by the Federal Government,

Stating that the plant assembled about four TATA trucks daily, Divan informed the guests that capacity utilisation could be increased if the need arose, even as he hinted of plans to move from assembling of the vehicles to actual manufacturing by sourcing most of the components locally.

“We are targeting manufacturing, not just assembly,” the IPI Chief Executive Officer remarked, stating, “by next year, 40 percent of the TATA trucks available in the market will be locally made.”

IPI, according to Diwan, was the product of his father’s foresight, having been founded about 50 years ago as a steelwork manufacturer, became the leader in steel fabrication and structures, and has diversified into automotive assembly, trailer manufacturing, paint manufacturing and logistics.

The special guest, Director, Industrial Infrastructure, NADDC, Abdulwaheed Odetoro, an engineer, commended the President Muhammadu Buhari government for retaining the auto policy initiated by the previous regime. 

The IPI plant where the TATA vehicles are assembled, the Director explained, got official certification following an inter-agency collaboration {featuring the NADDC, the relevant ministry, Standards Organisation of Nigeria and the Customs} in the inspection of the plant after the introduction of the auto policy.

Odetoro assured that that government would continue to give adequate support to the industry by patronising its products as patronages as directed by the Bureau of Public Procurement. “Government will continue to give support and protect locally manufactured cars in Nigeria. In the past, what we had was policy somersault, but now government has put up a bill passed by National Assembly.

“The bill, the Automotive Development Plan Policy has been passed by the National Assembly waiting for the President assent. Once it is signed, the core operators in Nigeria will be protected. 

“The country is appreciative to those who have faith in Nigeria because manufacturing is key to the economy of Nigeria. We need to transform the sector from import dependent to full scale manufacturing with realisation of technology transfer to indigenous experts in the industry,” he said.