German car maker, Volkswagen Automobile Group, has restarted vehicle assembling in Nigeria, 20 years after stopping operations in the country following the collapse of its joint venture with the Federal Government.
The auto giant says it has already rolled out the first set of vehicles — Jetta, Passat, CC and Amarok models — from its rejigged auto assembly plant in Lagos.
The production, it said, was made possible through a partnership agreement it signed with the Stallion Group, for the assembly of the Volkswagen brand of vehicles in the country in line with the National Automotive Industrial Plan announced by the Federal Government in 2013.
The leader of Volkswagen Group’s delegation from Germany, Mr. Ratz Wolfgang, said the signing of the agreement marked the revival of the assembly of Volkswagen vehicles in Nigeria. According to him, Volkswagen has now returned to Nigeria to continue a long history that began in the 1970s.
“We are certain that further growth is possible, which is why Volkswagen is constantly searching for new opportunities to increase its global market and sales potential, and we appreciate the fact that we are able to strengthen our business relationship with our professional partner, Stallion Group,” he said.
The Stallion Group recently purchased the moribund Volkswagen of Nigeria plant, resuscitated it and started assembling buses, trucks, pick-ups and passenger vehicles at the facility.
Stallion Group says it is also assembling Nissan, Hyundai, Ashok-Leyland and IVECO vehicle brands at the factory, adding that it has developed a large team of skilled human resources following extensive training by specialists from the respective principals.
It said that the launch of Volkswagen vehicles was another major catalyst for the revival of Nigeria’s automotive industry, which could lead to the development of multiple ancillary industries and component manufacturers, apart from fostering engineering skills and generating employment.
The Chairman, Stallion Group, Mr. Sunil Vaswani, described the relationship as a great moment for Stallion in partnering with a world leading global brand like Volkswagen. “We are immensely pleased to bring back the proud legacy of Nigeria’s automotive industry, the Volkswagen brand that once was indigenously produced at the same premises. Stallion is committed to investing and expanding its operations in the automotive value chain across multiple global brands and paving the way for Nigeria to establish itself as a regional leader in the automobile eco-system,” he said.
The Managing Director, Stallion Motors, Mr. Raju Sawlani, described the company’s partnership with the Volkswagen Group as noble and stated that the Stallion Group had broken a new ground in partnering with a leading global brand like Volkswagen. “This will further enable us to create employment, acquire technology for our industrialisation and reduce pressure on the country’s balance of payment position resulting from escalating vehicle import bill,” he said.
By Pita Ochai