… As Toyota Boss Lauds Nigerian Customs
The Toyota Hilux has been named as the top-selling Toyota brand in the kitty of Toyota Nigeria Limited, as Hiace and Avensis trail behind. This assertion was made by Toyota Nigeria Limited Managing Director, Kunle Ade-Ojo.
The Hilux was singled out by the Toyota boss Ade-Ojo as his company’s top-selling model during the period under review, a result he attributed to the shortage of passenger vehicles as a result of the company’s prioritization policy.
He stated: “The number one selling model for us at Toyota this year has been Hilux, which contributes about 60 -70 percent. We’ve done about 1200 of Hilux out of about 1900 sales.”
Reiterating his earlier forecast of between 8000 and 10000 total new vehicle sales during the year, Mr. Ade-Ojo specifically forecasted that the market would do about 9000 in 2017, 24% of which, he reckons, will be Toyota, which in figure term, translates to about 2160.
Ade-Ojo also hinged the drop in sales of Hiace bus below that of Hilux on the high cost of acquiring vehicles in the country, as a result of which fleet owners resort to maintaining their existing vehicles rather than acquiring new ones.
“Transporters,” he explained, “who in the past, used to be quite vibrant, when it comes to purchasing of the Hiace for their transport business are beginning to use their vehicles for much longer and rather invest more in after-sales service.
“However, we are beginning to see changes, most of which will come up next year. As we move towards the end of the year, we are beginning to see improvements on the purchases of Hiace. And we are forecasting that between now and Q1 of next year, the product will be much more available.”
He also said plans are underway to increase its share of total new vehicle sales in Nigeria to about 24% by the end of 2017.
According to him, although at the end of the third quarter of the year, the entire Nigerian auto market sold about 7000 vehicles out of which Toyota did about 1900, the economic factors militating against vehicle imports and sales in the country are changing.
He explained:“Remember we told you that we had to prioritize in the midst of limited funds and put our efforts on the fastest moving vehicles as much as possible. But that is a little bit changing as we get into the last quarter of the year. We now have passenger vehicles available. That is why I said we should be able to grow our market share to end with about 24%.
“The total vehicle sales as at Q3 was estimated to be about 7000 units compared to about 14,500 last year (2016), which is a drop of 48% in sales. Out of this, Toyota did about 1900, translating to about 22%.”
Reviewing imports in the same period, he said, “Imports dropped about 60% from about 18,000 in 2015 to just close to 7,000 in 2016. Of course, in terms of our share of the imports, we had about 43% in 2015 and that dropped to about 38% in 2016.”
According to the TNL boss, Nigeria’s Auto Industry is expected to import and sell between 8,000 and 10,000 new vehicles this year, which is lower than the 15,000 projected at the end of last year.
The forecast, Ade-Ojo said was based on the industry’s performance in the first quarter of 2017, adding that at the end of the first quarter of 2017, total import figures in the nation’s automobile industry, from the nation’s ports, came to about 350 units compared to about 3,500 units that came in at the same time last year.
According to him, the devaluation of the Naira also affected sales last year, saying “whereas in the first half of the year the Naira was about 200 to the Dollar but that by the end of the year it had doubled. So, prices of vehicles also pretty much doubled and a lot of businesses could not afford to pay for the increase. We at TNL are struggling to survive. A lot of companies had to retrench their staff last year as a result of the tough economic situation.”
Similarly, the Toyota boss has commended the Nigeria Customer Service on their performance within the year under review. He said custom’s efforts are beginning to impact positively on genuine Nigerian auto dealership business, especially Toyota dealers as well as buyers.
“The customs are really cracking down on the grey market,” he affirmed, adding, “I will like to commend them on that on one side. Figures at our disposal show that the volume of business by these people (grey importers) has sort of reduced. The effect of customs going around is also putting a lot of them under pressure.
“What we are also beginning to see now is some of the grey dealers, rather than bringing in the goods themselves, would rather go to our dealers, which is better, because, at the end of the day, the customer gets the product that came in through Toyota Nigeria for the Nigerian market.”
According to Ade-Ojo, although some genuine auto dealers, who actually paid duties, are sometimes being unduly affected, for grey import auto dealers, it has not been business as usual.
He explained: “Some of us that actually paid duties like Toyota Nigeria are also sometimes being unduly affected. Even with evidence, sometimes this causes unnecessary headaches for us and our customers. But I know of raids in Lagos, raids in Abuja. I also read in papers of grey dealers’ facilities stormed by the custom. So this is giving the grey importers concern. They are not even comfortable displaying their goods.
“And of course, we are also doing public awareness. What I understand is that when you go to grey dealers, they would offer customers the option of buying the one with duty paid and the one without.
“But at Toyota Nigeria, you are guaranteed that all vehicles you buy from us have the right duties paid. So you have a peace of mind. And we even did some campaign early in the year, and I think we would also probably be doing the same as we end the year just to enlighten our customers. And a lot of customers are also beginning to ask for confirmation that you have actually paid duties with correct documentation, which we are not afraid to give, because we have them. And that also helps the Toyota image and integrity in the market.”