Nigeria’s first indigenous auto plant, Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Ltd (IVM), Nnewi, has re-stated its commitment to the vision of continuous investment in the production of high quality vehicles as needed in the Nigerian market and in other African countries.

The company also said that rather than soft-pedaling on this vision, it has in the past few years upscaled its production technology, in addition to embarking on a plant expansion and establishment of a new production facility in Nsukka, and CNG conversion factory in Owerri.

Innoson management was reacting to a recent publication in a national daily (not THISDAY) which claimed that all the auto assembly plants in Nigeria are in ruins, and that about N500 billion investments made since the Nigerian Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) took effect in 2014, have not made an impact in the industry.

In a press statement issued by the Head of Communications, Mr. Cornel Osigwe, Innoson Vehicles said: ”Since our plant commenced vehicle manufacturing more than 13 years ago with a pledge to keep providing affordable vehicles to Nigerians without compromising on quality, we have gone beyond the initial mini buses and pick-ups, to add different models of sedans, SUVs, family vehicles, fire trucks, as well as city and inter-city buses of various sizes.

“We are always busy manufacturing these vehicles based on the demands from the government and the private sector. We also feel the pulse of users of our vehicles as well as the market generally, and the feedback so obtained helps us to enhance the quality of our products. It also helps us to determine what the market needs.

“About two years ago, we made history by becoming the first, and so far the only, manufacturer of CNG/LNG-powered vehicles in Nigeria, for which we have earned many recognitions, including awards from The Sun Publishing, Silverbird and the Nigeria Auto Journalists Association (NAJA), all in 2023.

“Moreover, the presentation of Quality Management Certificate and the MANCAP Certificate by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria {SON} to Innoson in 2023 is a confirmation of our adherence to high international quality standards in the manufacture of our range of vehicles.

“So, with all these production activities and sustained investments, Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Co, Nnewi, cannot be described as an assembly plant in ruins.”

The press statement further disclosed that it was in pursuit of its avowed vision that Innoson upgraded its factory operations from manual production to semi-automation, and then to standard automation, resulting in the production capacity increasing from 10,000 vehicles to 60,000 vehicles per annum.

In line with the foresight of its Chairman, Dr. Innocent Chukwuma, CON, Innoson Vehicles has embarked on an ambitious multi-billion naira plant expansion project at Umuezena axis of Umudim, Nnewi, which when completed in the next couple of months, will be dedicated to the manufacture of a wide range of CNG/LNG-powered vehicles and heavy duty trucks.

Innoson is also investing in the University of Nigeria Nsukka {UNN} where it is partnering with the institution to establish a plant that will be manufacturing units of 20HP Agricultural Tractor with the brand name Lion IVM.

“Apart from the Umuezena and UNN projects, Innoson Vehicles is currently setting up an IVM CNG conversion centre at Naze, Owerri, Imo State. The state-of-the-art facility is for the conversion and retrofitting of fuel/diesel powered vehicles to CNG/LNG powered vehicles.”

The press statement also gave insight into partnership with the Military, saying “Innoson Vehicles has been collaborating with the Nigerian Air Force for the development and promotion of joint activities to sustain the maintenance of the Nigerian Air Force Air Asset and other associated Aerospace Ground Equipment, AGE.

“We are equally in partnership with the Nigerian Army for the modification of some of its equipment, local production of armoured fighting and utility vehicles.”

Recall that the Nnewi auto plant has in the past few years exported IVM vehicles to some African countries, including Sierra Leone, Niger, Congo, Ghana, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso.

This has culminated in the company concluding plans with the government of Sierra to establish an assembly plant in Freetown.

“Innoson Vehicles is on a mission to be a giant vehicle manufacturing company in Africa in other to serve Africa vehicle needs by its current expansion efforts.

“The range of products from the stable of IVM are affordable and within the reach of the Nigerian investing public who are in the transportation business, corporate organisations,

government and its agencies at various levels, as well as individuals who desire the products, satisfactory service and exciting driving experience.”

The company, however, disclosed that there have been challenges in the industry which, according to the press statement, Chief Innocent Chukwuma, is hopeful the Federal Government will earnestly address through the new Automotive Policy.

“The Innoson Group founder has since applauded the recent efforts by the Minister of Industry Trade & Investments Minister, Dr. Doris Nkiruka Uzoka-Anite, and the Director General of the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), Mr. Joseph Osanipin, towards effective implementation of the new Automotive Policy (NAIDP 2023).

“The recent inauguration of the NAIDP 2023 implementation committee in Abuja, is a testament to the Federal Government’s commitment to making the new policy work. We are hopeful the new policy will be well implemented, and we support the efforts being made by the government and the NADDC in that direction.”

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