3-wheeler market rebounds as Stallion Auto Keke records 50,000 sales

The market for three-wheelers, popularly referred to as ‘Keke’ is gradually picking up, despite challenges of COVID-19 and access to foreign exchange last year. Stallion Auto Keke Limited, a member of the Stallion Group, and sole distributor of the Bajaj 3-wheelers & 4-wheelers in Nigeria has reported growth despite prevailing economic challenges as it celebrates its first anniversary.

With 50,000 Keke sales across the country, as reported by the company, its market share was put at 49 percent during the 2020 financial year, against 35 percent during the previous year (2019). The company’s market share according to its executives during a recent event would have been between 65 and 70 percent, but for the economic headwinds.

“Precisely, we achieved a market share of 55 percent in the last quarter of the full year 2020-2021, and January to March 2021, and not only that, we have made huge inroads in East, Ibadan and Lagos,” said Manish Rohtagi, managing director, Stallion Auto KeKe Limited.

It was disclosed that the industry sells an average of 12,000 units across the country every month, but because of the challenges last year, the market shrank almost 30 percent to about 9,000 units. In Lagos, about 1200 to 1500 units are sold monthly. However, since August, the market has shown improvement and back to 2019 pre-COVID levels, it was noted.

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According to Rohtagi, Stallion-Bajaj, as the company is mostly referred to, has emerged stronger and better despite the Nigerian socio-economic and environmental challenges like stiff competition, shifting consumer mindset, increase in the foreign exchange rate, stringent government policies (Keke ban across some states) and more.

Mandar Ghadge, the company’s business development head, told BusinessDay that while in Lagos, Keke has been restricted in 12 LGAs, the industry has not shrunk but has moved to the outskirts.

“The numbers stayed the same, but the areas of operation have moved outside,” he said. If a dealer is in an area where usage is banned, such people have simply moved to new places, he noted, citing Surulere, where its dealers have moved to other places to do business.

“In Nigeria, we need the last mile transport, which Keke offers as a safe mode of transport,” Ghadge said.

For Austin Okocha, an ex-Nigerian footballer who is the company’s brand ambassador, the potential of the product in creating employment and source of livelihood was what got him interested in partnering with Bajaj.

“Sometimes we always look for a way to give back to society and it is encouraging to see that a company like this has come into Nigeria to empower our people to create jobs,” he said. “You don’t have to be a millionaire to start with a product like this. The platform is great for an average Nigerian to build on. Not just that but it also provides a cheap and safe means of transportation.”

A statement by the company highlighted initiatives such as the Stallion Empowerment Initiative (SEI) programme, which focuses on female three-wheeler drivers, mechanical training and assembling. More than 2000 young women have benefited. In addition to this, it said the company trains females on financial management, inventory management and other aspects of management.

“We have not only trained females but also hired them in our assembly plants and as field mechanics. We also arrange for loans and driving licenses for them to ensure their upliftment,” said Rohtagi.

Currently, there are about 20 percent females engaged by the company with a commitment to make it 33 percent by the end of the year 2022. In line with this vision, 40 women have been trained and integrated into the VON assembly plant in Lagos, with a goal to train and absorb 500 female technicians by 2022.

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