Innoson to Produce 30,000 CNG Buses, Trucks Annually From new Multi-billion Naira Plant

Bennett  Oghifo

Innoson Vehicles Manufacturing Company Ltd (IVM), Nnewi, has said it would start producing 30,000 buses and trucks that would be powered with Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). The company also plans to produce farm tractors.

Innoson is Nigeria’s pioneer manufacturer of buses that are powered with Compressed Natural Gas. 

These vehicles, Innoson said, would be constructed at its new multi-billion Naira plant.

The new CNG vehicles plant, which, according to the company, is expected to be commissioned soon.

This is contained in a statement in which the Chairman of Innoson Group, Dr. Innocent Chukwuma, CON, was quoted as saying that the company, in conjunction with the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), plans to construct a plant that will produce tractors and other farm implements.

The news about a new Innoson auto plant dedicated to the manufacturing of only CNG vehicles in Nnewi, comes at a time Nigerians are still wondering why the Presidential Committee on CNG Initiative excluded Innoson from the list of auto companies it awarded contracts for the procurement of thousands of ‘fuel-subsidy palliative’ buses.

The company said, “As a result of the wide acceptance of CNG vehicles Innoson has been manufacturing since 2022, the company last year embarked on the construction of a new multi-billion naira plant dedicated to the production of only automobiles that run on CNG.

“The new factory, which has the capacity to produce 30,000 units of CNG vehicles annually in one shift, has almost been completed and will be commissioned soon.”

Innoson’s statement, issued by a media consultant and Director of Innoson Group, Mr. Alfred Nwosu, was in response to an appeal by a group of farmers, led by Chief Ebere Orji Odi, to Chief Chukwuma and IVM to produce tractors and related implements to enhance mechanised farming and boost the economy.

Chief Odi, who is also an executive member of some farmers’ associations, had underscored the importance of agriculture in the life of any nation, and the obvious adverse implications of having an army of unemployed youths in any society, hence the need for Innoson and other companies to intervene with the manufacture of farm equipment to boost mechanised farming.

In its reaction, Innoson Vehicles said the farmers’ concerns “resonated with us at IVM,” disclosing that it was for this reason, that a couple of years ago, the automaker initiated a joint venture with the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) for the production of tractors and related agricultural equipment.

The project, Innoson Vehicles explained, “is presently witnessing a lull following the change of baton in the administration of the respected institution,” assuring, however, that when the plant eventually comes on stream, it will be producing tractors and farm implements that enhance mechanised agriculture, under the brand name of Lion.

“This Lion project in the UNN is in line with IVM’s avowed commitment from inception to gradually satisfying the varied vehicular needs of the Nigerian market and the continent of Africa.

“Though Chief Chukwuma’s vision of top quality mobility for the people first manifested with the production of Nigeria’s first indigenous (Innoson) brand of motorcycles in the 90s, this commitment was formally enunciated on October 15, 2010, when the then President Goodluck Jonathan commissioned the plant in Nnewi.

“The factory took off with the production of mini buses and pick-ups, with the former President so impressed that he directed that all government vehicles must thenceforth be sourced from Innoson and other local automakers.

“The ovation at the inauguration of the plant had hardly died down when Innoson commenced the expansion of the range with passenger cars, and later refuse management trucks.

“The IVM line-up has since been expanded to include medium, city (mass transit) and inter-city buses, sport utility vehicles (SUVs), family vehicles, purpose-built 4×4 pick-ups, military vehicles, as well as specialised vehicles like ambulances and fire trucks.

“Some of these vehicles have at different times been exported to Sierra Leone, Niger, Congo, Ghana, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso

“In 2022, well ahead of fuel subsidy withdrawal, Innoson scored another first by commencing the manufacture of vehicles that run on compressed natural gas (CNG).”

The exclusive CNG plant project was encouraged by the success recorded by the autogas buses and other vehicles manufactured by IVM in the past two years, said the company’s officials.

Innoson, however, decried the questionable manner the Presidential Committee on CNG Initiative handled the award of contracts for the procurement of the autogas vehicles, which it alleged was skewed in favour of preferred companies, while shunning the Nnewi plant which two years ago invested billions of naira to pioneer CNG vehicle manufacturing in Nigeria with its buses on the road in many parts of the country.

“The injustice won’t deter us at Innoson. Rather, we will continue to do our best to manufacture vehicles that satisfy the various needs of the Nigerian market. But, it is pertinent to point out that killing the initiative of genuine investors does not enhance the development of our economy in any way.”

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