India’s largest commercial automobile company, Tata Motors have joined other Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) with interest in setting up automotive assembly plant in Nigeria.
BusinessDay reports that Tata is expected to commence the assembly of Tata Zenon trucks towards the last quarter of 2015.
Rated as the largest commercial vehicle maker in India, Tata will be partnering with Iron Products and Industries (IPI) Limited in the areas of technical partnerships and equipment installation including training while IPI Limited will fund the investment with a projectd $8million on equipments and other machinaries to assemble the Tata Zenon range of Pick-up trucks in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.
Ravi Pisharody, Executive Director, Commercial Vehicles, Tata Motors Limited, said the automaker is going into partnership with Iron Products Industries (IPI) Nigeria Limited to assemble Tata Pick-up trucks under the SKD I and II automotive assembly regimes at various stages of development.
IPI is a local automotive component manufacturer including steel and aluminum plant.
According to Ravi Pisharody, “Tata definitely have local automobile assembly plans for Nigeria. For us, it is one of the focussed markets within Africa as well. We have plans to invest in assembly capacity and we are now at the finance and final stages of when the operations will kick off, but we are seriously looking at taking off. We already have IPI our distributor partner and shall be sharing its existing facility with plans to supply SKD assembly kits that will match global industry standards.”
Tata was linked with new assembly operations in Nigeria following the Nigerian government’s approval for the National Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) in 2013. Through the NAIDP, the government aims to encourage investment from global automakers in Nigeria with the objective to support the development of local component suppliers by expanding local capacity for automakers manufacturing affordable vehicles in large quantities.
The executive director regretted that the automotive policy is taken a long time to get articulated by the federal government in order to address grey areas which he identified as one of the challenges that delayed the take off of the Tata assembly plant in the country. With the new development, Tata is joining global automakers including Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, Kia, Peugeot and Sino Trucks, that have already begun assembly operations in the country.
“As Tata Motors that are concerned about the needs of the global and various domestic markets such as Nigeria, we will be introducing some of the latest automotive technologies that would not stand the test of time, but also meet the needs of our individual and corporate fleet customers.” He noted.
“One of the things that stand us out from competition is to study the basic requirements of the regions that we supply vehicles, feel their pulse. What we do at Tata Motors is to study each of the markets that we operate in to understand their needs and their respective local applications and tailor our production models to meet their demands.”
At the ongoing Africa’s media familiarization tour of Tata Group establishments by journalists from South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya including Business Day in Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad and Bangalore in India, Girish Wagh, senior vice president in charge of programme planning & project management for Tata Motors Limited, said Tata Motors is very optimistic of an increased market share in Nigeria automotive market space which is put at 15 percent.
On quality, A K Jindal , Head of Engineering, commercial vehicles, engineering research centre at the Tata assembly plant in Pune, maintained that the same standard of vehicles produced in different parts of the world by the company will be replicated in Nigeria.
Though he was silent on the number of jobs the plant would generate when operational, he stressed that it will have the capacity to employ many jobless Nigerians and enable transfer of technology among the locals in addition to creating more auto component industries.
Africa accounts for an estimated 25percent of Tata vehicle sales globally. Through Tata Africa Services Nigeria Limited, Tata has supplied about 100 compactors for waste disposal needs of Lagos State governments and the supply of 100 units of large capacity passenger buses to Living Faith Church.
Tata registered its first African footprint in the continent with the firts shipments of 40 units of vehicles to Sudan in 1963 and since then more than 125,000 vehicles have been shipped to more than 30 African countries till date with over 150 touch points spanning 18 countries.