Only 350 new vehicles were imported by Nigerian auto firms in the first quarter of this year, which shows a drop of about 90 per cent over 3,500 recorded in the same period last year.
Managing Director of Toyota Nigeria Limited, Mr. Kunle Ade-Ojo, who gave the statistics at a press briefing in Lagos, attributed the development to high duty on imported cars, shortage of foreign exchange and economic recession.
Similarly, he said the total retail sale of new vehicles for the first quarter of 2017 stood at 2,000 units compared to 5,500 units sold last year.
Although he said the fall in vehicle imports was also witnessed last year, it was not as pronounced as this year’s.
For instance, he recalled that the total vehicles imported into the country in 2016 dropped to 7,000 from 18,000 in 2015.
According to him, the total retail market plunged by about 42 per cent from 32,000 units in 2015 to 18,000 in 2016.
He, however, said commercial vehicles sold more last year at 70 per cent than passenger cars, which recorded 30 per cent of the total sales.
He also said the total forecast for the year was between 8,000 and 10,000 vehicles.
“The scarcity of forex affected business last year and that affected importation. Also, there was the devaluation of the naira. Whereas in the first quarter of the year, the United States dollar was just about N200, by the end of the year, it had doubled. So, prices of vehicles also doubled in the space of one year and a lot of businesses could not afford to pay for the increase given that they were also struggling to survive,” he said.
Ade-Ojo, however, added that Toyota Nigeria had the lion’s share of 43 per cent of the 2015 imports, and 38 per cent of 2016 vehicle imports.
The TNL boss also said while 22,000 new vehicles were sold in 2015, 18,000 units.
The Federal Government had jacked up the import duty on cars from 22 per cent to 70 per cent to discourage vehicle importation and crashed duty on imported vehicle components by auto assemblers.