Lanre Shittu Motors (LSM) has revealed that its business relationship with some Chinese automobile companies has positively contributed to the Nigerian economy.
The company’s Group Executive Director, Mr. Taiwo Shittu, in a chat with journalists in Lagos, explained that LSM’s business relation with the Asian companies had led to the importation as well as the assembling of cheaper but viable commercial and heavy duty vehicles servicing many industries like oil and gas, construction and haulage.
He noted that auto products from Europe, America and Japan were becoming too expensive for many Nigerian firms to afford, adding that the Chinese products are providing viable alternatives.
LSM, which is known in the Nigerian market as a leader in commercial vehicles segment, imports and assembles products like the JAC, XCMG and Huanghai LSM. Huanghai LSM is the latest addition to the Lanre Shittu Motors stable.
The company’s auto assembly plant which is situated in the highbrow Amuwo Odofin industrial area in Lagos, is manned chiefly by Nigerian engineers and technicians as well as expatriates from the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).
Taiwo Shittu who affirmed that the Chinese automobiles have come to stay added that “doing business with Chinese can be very technical. But that is where experience comes to play. A Chinese company can be fair to you when they know you are diligent. We have been lucky to have a very good brand (JAC) that we are representing and they respect the MOU we signed.
“In the past, we had some Chinese companies that sell to us as dealers and also sell to end users. How can you compete with the manufacturer selling in the same market you are supposed to represent? But now, we lock up our contract from the beginning. JAC, for instance, respects dealerships. Some Nigerians who went to China to buy JAC trucks were referred back to us.
“As we speak (mid-January 2023), we are rolling out 48 Huanghai LSM pickups. You can attest to the fact that our plant is always busy whenever you visit. We do not just sell, we support our customers with exceptional aftersales because when these customers have less down time on their commercial vehicles, they would return to us because of our services.
“We have two plants. We are expanding; we have another plant in Sagamu, Ogun State. Work has started there and we hope to complete our first line by December this year. It’s going to be six lines but we would do it one after the other. Everything is based on planning.”
He noted that globally, the economy had been bad, adding that every serious business would not close shop but think out of the box to be part of economic rejuvenation.
The Executive Director also revealed that “products like the JAC could do 30 years and more, noting that the chassis, transmission and axles are strong and called them ‘the life of the vehicle’.
According to him, the engines of those old European brands that are still standing today must have been overhauled or replaced.
He said, “When the frame, axle and chassis are very strong, the engine can always be replaced and the vehicle is on the road again. What matters most in auto brands is the support. Right now, we (JAC) are matching the European trucks in terms of quality and maintenance.
“But the issue is: how many people can afford the cost of the European truck? They are becoming too expensive and difficult to make profit. We need budget trucks. Not many will want to invest over N100m or more in a truck moving from Lagos to Kano when the same amount can purchase three trucks.
Re-affirming the acceptability of JAC trucks in the market, he said, “Whether we like it or not, the Chinese products are taking over the market in Nigeria and they have come to stay. This is because their quality has become almost at par with the European standard.
“And the prices are low. Most of the components are from the same makers producing for the European brands. They have established factories in China, making most of the auto brands almost the same quality.”