Nigeria has recorded a drop of 67 per cent in its new car importation this year, compared to the 2014 figure.
Toyota Nigeria Limited, which stated this in Lagos, said 15,031 new vehicles were imported into the country by various dealers in 2015 as against 45,618 last year.
The TNL, which is the leading automobile company in the country, spoke through its Head of Marketing, Mr. Andrew Ajuyah.
He attributed the drastic drop in the number of imports to the impact of the full implementation of the automotive policy and the free fall in the value of the naira against international currencies, especially the United States dollar.
The Federal Government had in the last quarter of 2013 introduced the Nigerian Automotive Industry Development Plan (auto policy), which raised the import tariff on cars to 70 per cent from 22 per cent; and on buses and other commercial vehicles to 35 per cent.
The policy, which is meant to discourage the importation of new and used automobiles, and encourage local production/assembly of vehicles, could not be fully implemented immediately owing to pressure from stakeholders.
“This year marks the full implementation of the auto policy and that accounts for the drop in car imports in 2015,” Ajuyah said.
Although local vehicle assemblers are granted zero per cent tariff on Completely Knocked Down vehicle parts and allowed to import twice the number of vehicles locally produced at 35 per cent or 20 per cent as a way of bringing down prices of vehicle, the cost of automobiles have remained high. New vehicle dealers are complaining of poor sales.
Ajuyah said the continued fall in the value of the naira against the dollar had forced auto dealers to reduce the number of vehicles they imported this year.
The naira, which was about N210 to one dollar about six months ago, went up to 280 in the first week of December and marginally dropped thereafter. By Wednesday, it exchanged for 260 against the dollar.
The National Automotive Design and Development Council, which gave Nigeria’s potential annual new car market as one million units, put the current figure at 56,000 units in a used-vehicle dominated market.
The Director-General, NADDC, Aminu Jalal, also estimated the used vehicle imports at 300,000 units annually.
Experts say Nigeria’s local production capacity of vehicles is about 100,000 units, but the capacity utilisation has over the years dropped to less than 15 per cent.