Nissan, the Japanese car maker, said it would commence the assembly of locally-made cars in April.
Senior officials revealed this at following a meeting with the President Goodluck Jonathan at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Nissan Chief Executive Officer, Carlos Ghosn, said the company planned to roll out the first “made in Nigeria” 4 X 4 Utility SUV in April this year using the old Volkswagen Assembly plant owned by its partners.
Ghosn, who said that it was possible to produce 2 million to 3 million cars in Nigeria annually with the consequent creation of thousands of direct and indirect jobs, told the President that Nissan intended to increase its investment in Nigeria and establish its own vehicle production plants in the country.
“We are interested in producing popular cars, totally adapted to the needs of Nigerians,” he said.
He added that the company also planned to bring its global suppliers to make vehicle components in the country.
In October last year, Nissan and West African conglomerate, Stallion Group, announced their intention to jointly launch vehicle assembly in Nigeria.
The announcement is in expectation of final approval by the Federal Government of the new Automobile Industrial Policy, designed to encourage development of the auto industry in Nigeria, and would see Nissan become the first major international manufacturer to launch vehicle assembly in the country following the new legislation.
The parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding which would result in Stallion- already Nissan’s exclusive distributor in Nigeria-increasing capacity at its existing plant in Lagos.
The plant’s annual capacity will be expanded to 45 000 units to assemble a range of cars, light duty trucks, pickups and vans.
During the signing, the parties said full details of the product lineup would be confirmed at a later date.
However, it was anticipated the first product to be introduced would be the iconic Patrol SUV.