There was a palpable air of excitement throughout the facility tour of the multi billion naira state of the art assembly plant of Kia Motors Nigeria, in Lagos where over 20 journalists of leading media houses in the country visited the plant to peruse the equipment and the brand’s assembly process. There is no gainsaying the fact that, Kia has remained one of the major brands in country with its year-on-year phenomenal rise that has galvanised the brand into a monumental feat in the Nigerian auto industry following the unveiling of the plant in the first quarter of the year
Reinforcing the company’s unwavering commitment to the industrialisation of Nigerian economy and its indelible contributions to the success of the auto policy, it has invested heavily in the assembly plant. Its state of the art technologies are arguably at par with any renowned and international plant in the world. The plant now prides itself on the production of 9 models and their respective trims in the country with over 2500 units rolled out since its launch in April, 2014.
The sprawling complex has been built to the high standard of Kia Motors Corporation. Culminating in several months of construction, installation of technologically advanced equipment and the training of its staff have snowballed into its first assembly lines that assembles Kia models, such as its best-selling Kia Rio, Cerato, Optima, Sportage and the all-new 2015 Kia Sorento recently unveiled globally amongst others are all products from the plant.
In tandem with all automobile assembling/manufacturing plants in new market practice globally, the plant kicked off with semi knocked down where painted and trimmed bodies are shipped from an established plant in one box, mechanicals in another, join the two, add some locally sourced transmission fluids, air conditioner gas and the host of others.
With no prejudice and utmost transparency to help in alleviating the rate of unemployment in the country, over 85% of the employees are sourced locally from top Nigerian universities, speaking at the tour, the Chief Operation officer, Gitesh Yagnik pointed out that the plant house over 100 engineers drawn from Nigerian universities and had undergone a top notch intensive training program and capacity development before been employed into the plant. In his words “we now have 150 trained and qualified engineers that can be compared to international standard and over 50 support staff running the operational and assembly process cycle of the plant”. In a testament to his words, the tour was conducted by Yemisi, the supply chain manager, and she gave a holistic and professional insight of the plant’s facility and assembling process to the journalists, evidently her expertise it’s unquestionable.
Apparently, the plant is people-focused. “We believe our strength is in our employees rather than machines” the Chief Commercial Officer, Sandeep Malhotra said. He further alluded to the fact that the success of the plant is premised on Nigeria’s auto policy. According to him, for the industry to be revolutionised and to contribute immensely to the country’s IGR, the government needs to stay true to the policy and clamp down on the unchecked influx of imported used cars, popularly known as “Tokunbo” vehicles.
Speaking to journalists in a media chat after the tour, Sandeep pointed out that “the company is yet to break even with the investment as the demand for new cars in Nigeria is relatively low compared to pre-owned vehicles, hence, if the policy holds sway wherein 70% increased duty is implemented and the prices of used cars soar higher, there will an attendant shift in the demand and customer preference which will directly impact on the supply of locally assembled new cars in the country.” He however sated that, Kia Motors Nigeria remained resolute and committed to the long term investment in the auto industry despite the short term challenges currently faced. The plant has the capacity to produce 27,000 vehicles in a year and there is a provision to increase the production lines which is dependent on the demand. In view of this, auto companies will only break even if there is an increased demand which reduces the total cost of production.
Against all odds and to make owning its vehicles affordable to all without compromising on the brand’s renowned quality standard across the globe, the company currently sells its best-in-class and widely accepted Kia Rio for N1.98M. It’s indeed a quantum leap by the auto company to present a new car for less than N2M.
At the end of the tour, it’s apparently lucid that there was no compromise on the quality and the high standard of the plant and it remains one of the best in the country. It’s highly ventilated facility and its environmental worthiness bring the auto company to the fore of the Nigerian auto industry. The excitement emanating from the plant cannot be overemphasised as the employees are passionate about their work and are committed to producing made-in-Nigeria Kia vehicles the preferred choice in the country.