As part of commitment to promote economic diversification and support the nation’s automotive policy, Toyota Nigeria Limited has revealed a made in Nigeria Hiace, assembled at its 30,000 capacity facility in Ikotun, Lagos. Besides, the organisation has recalled about 900 Toyota RAV4 sold between 2006 and 2012 to add resin covers to the metal seat-cushion frames, following discovery that the rear seatbelts of the models could be severed in a crash, leaving passengers unprotectedSpeaking in Lagos over the week, Managing Director of the organisation, Kunle Ade-Ojo also said that the business downturn, which is currently playing out in the sector may not spring back in the near future. According to him, the organisation’s assemblage facility comprises two lines, which are expected to assemble personal and mini buses as well as pickups and light commercial vehicles. He stated that the Hiace was assembled as test sample, adding that the organisation would soon begin mass production. Ade-Ojo said: “We need to introduce some changes to the plant so as to achieve efficiencies in the operations. With the current economic situation, we are looking at starting mass production in a couple of month.”

“We are constantly training technicians and as far as the plant is concerned we are assuring customers that we would want to continuously improve the assembling process of our vehicles to ensure that the vehicles meet international standards,” he added.

Ade-ojo, who stated that the plant, which occupies a 40, 000 square metre of land, was built to handle assemblage of different models, revealed that the facility is capable of rolling out about 30, 000 vehicles yearly.

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He urged the government to concentrate efforts on developing local ancillary industry that would continue to support and drive the growth of the sector.

Speaking about the recall, Ade-Ojo said that the organisation is concerned and cautious of safety issues, stating that dealers would directly inform affected owners.

The organization said it had traced the problem to its design of metal seat-cushion frames in the S.U.V.’s rear seats, which in a severe frontal crash; the frames could slice through the belts, leaving passengers unrestrained

Stating that its dealers would fix the problem in the RAV4s by adding resin covers to the metal seat-cushion frames in less than 60 minutes per vehicle, the organisation assured that the seatbelts are safe.

Giving 2016 business outlook , Ade-Ojo said that the reality of government policies and slowing economy badly affected the business of automobile in 2015, reducing the company’s share of the market to about 24 per cent from 28 per cent in the previous year.

He said that the organisation’s sales was down at about 50 per cent, noting that government policy on forex, increased tariff, weak naira and downturn of oil prices may drag the sector in 2016.
However, Ade-Ojo said there was massive a gap between the organisation and competitors in the sector, saying that the company would focus on marketing models that are common in the market instead of introducing new products.

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