Coscharis unveils Ford vehicle assembly plant in Lagos
Nigeria’s car and agro dealer Coscharis Group has unveiled Coscharis Ford Assembly Plant in Lekki part of Lagos.
The assembly plant has the capacity to churn out 10,000 to 20,000 cars annually, even though the number of vehicles assembled this year so far is about 2,000.
The plant, which currently assembles Ford Ranger, is expected to create hundreds of jobs and trigger growth in the vehicle value chain.
“It has been a long wait from when we first announced in November 2015 that we had commenced physical structuring of the new plant in Lagos,” Cosmas Maduka, president/CEO of Coascharis Group, told journalists at a press conference, which took place inside the assembly hall, in Lagos.
“At the moment, our focus at the plant is to rollout the Ford Ranger, which is a multipurpose mini-truck that serves well for both work and leisure. As you are all aware, Ford has a global standard for all of its products including the Ranger. Therefore, Ford’s certification of our facility and output is a confirmation that every single Ranger that rolls out of this plant is indeed ‘Built Ford Tough’’ from which we’ve rolled out over 600 units from this facility since we started operation; some of which are on display,” Maduka said.
“But we will not rest on our oars as we are sure to wax stronger into the future with the introduction of other Ford variants into the assembly line,” he assured.
The semi-knocked down (SKD) assembly plant, which sits on 14 Hectares within Lekki-Epe axis, could be described as ‘massive’ as it compares with other vehicle assembly plants in South Africa and other parts of the world.
At the outset, Coscharis brought in South African auto assemblers and Indians who transferred technical skills to Nigerians before leaving.
Coscharis and its partner, Ford, have taken the issue of local skills transfer and development seriously, setting up a training school, which graduated 120 students this year. Coscharis Group assimilated 30 percent of the students into the plant, allowing the rest to set up their own technical shops.
Like other assembly plants, Coscharis Ford Assembly Plant involves a huge capital investment. The assembly hall alone costs about $15 million, while over N500 million has been invested in the outer part of the factory.
“This is a capital intensive project, which also involves huge financial, technical and human resources commitment. Therefore the fact that we have ventured into it headlong underpins the level of confidence and hope we have for the future of the Nigerian automotive industry. This is to underscore the human capital opportunities that stand to be delivered in terms of employment and, by extension, the multiplier effect on the economic development of our dear country, Nigeria,” Maduka said.
“We have always dreamt of a Nigeria that will take its place in the global arena, a Nigeria that sits among the egalitarians in the committee of nations, taken its rightful place in the pages of history. Our factory is the second ever Ford manufacturing outfit in the entire African continent, outside of South Africa; something we, indeed, are very proud of. By this, Coscharis, as an organisation, reinforces its belief in the Nigerian project that this is the only country we have and absolutely nothing else,” he stated.
“We can only but demand for governmental support in terms of enabling environment vis-à-vis basic infrastructures that are required to keep the manufacturing process on and more importantly the purchase patronage of the finished products from the plant,” he further said.
One major challenge with a car assembly plant like Coscharis Ford is government inconsistent policy. For instance, The National Automotive Industry Development Plan, started by the immediate past administration of Goodluck Jonathan, has not been implemented fully and timelines have been missed.
There is also no guarantee that the next government will adopt far-reaching resolutions.
Similarly, the present government has not made any big statement on the Auto Policy to show investors the direction it is going.
Twenty-five years ago in India, the only car company in the country was Suzuki. Citizens made sacrifices because borders were closed. People who paid for vehicles would wait for two to three years to get them. This sacrifice is needed in Africa’s biggest economy to develop the auto sector, stakeholders say.
This is because Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is largely import-dependent and relies on oil for 90 percent of its foreign exchange.
In 2016, crude oil price nosedived to less than $50 per barrel and the entire Nigerian economy collapsed, going into recession.
There were low dollar inflows as the non-oil export occupied less than 10 percent of FX. The official exchange rate at the moment is N305/$, as against N199/$ two and half years ago.
This implies that the price of assembled vehicles may not be cheaper at the moment but will draw down as demand continues to rise.
“At Coscharis Motors Plc, our concern and commitment to our loyal customers and stakeholders is to, as usual, set standards that other players will be judged by in the industry,” Maduka added.