Nigeria indigenous auto assembler, Lanre Shittu Motors, has revealed plans to build vehicles that will be known as Lanre Shittu that will serve not just the needs of Nigeria but people and firms in other West African countries.

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Group Executive Director of the company, Mr Taiwo Shittu, disclosed this in an interview in Lagos, adding that as a precursor to that the auto company had commenced the assembling of a mid-size pickup truck called Huanghai LSM, being produced in partnership with Dandong Huanghai Automobile Co Ltd, a Chinese automaker.

He said, “We intend to have a vehicle called LSM (Lanre Shittu Motors). We are starting from somewhere. We have partnered with Huanghai, a very good brand; which is the second biggest pickup company in China. We are sharing technology and a lot of other things with them. In time, we shall transit to LSM.

“The idea is to build the Nigerian auto industry to the level of exporting our products to other African countries and beyond. That is our plan. We are growing; LSM will be 42 this year. The earlier we have our brand the better.”

Already, Shittu said the company’s assembly plant had started injecting local content into products coming from the auto assembler.

Indeed, he said about 30 per cent of components of vehicles assembled from Lanre Shittu Motors are currently sourced locally.

He said, “All the lubricants, the grease, liquid-based materials used in vehicles we assemble here are sourced locally. We also get the materials for the box body – the buckets on the trucks – our welders design and fabricate them together. In some cases, it is about 30% local content.”

He said the company was building a large assembly plant in Sagamu, Ogun State, which would be completed at the end of this year, as part of its expansion projects.

Shittu urged the Federal Government to urgently put in place policies that would “make (auto) component manufacturers to come and build factories in Nigeria.”

He added, “There is a big market for them here. But there is no policy yet to make them want to come. We can get the glass, tyres and batteries locally. No manufacturer will tell you to use its tyre or battery because they too source them from other makers of these products.

“If government places 100% duty on imported versions of these products when we start making them in Nigeria, nobody will buy imported ones when the locally-made are cheaper and of the same quality.”