WIDE PRODUCT RANGE
On its website, Innoson advertises its commitment to producing durable and affordable cars for Africa. Cars are sold at the prices of imported used cars (local: tokunbo) and are comparable in quality to almost every foreign car. The company also ties in with Nigerian national pride: “we are the 1st Made-in-Africa automobile brand”.
The product range offered is surprisingly broad for an African, relatively young car manufacturer. Thus small cars, East Africa, limousines, pickups, SUVs, buses and minibuses are offered. The wide product range and the mere optical impression show a high level of know-how. This in turn suggests that behind Innoson stands a car manufacturer with many years of experience.
Innoson’s activities are not without controversy. It is alleged, inter alia, that Innoson only sells models of Chinese car manufacturers, such as the BAIC Group’s BJ80, under its own brand name. It could hardly be said to be “Made in Nigeria”. Moreover, the objective of excluding foreign used cars from the Nigerian market would be difficult to achieve if prices were similar to those of imported new cars. The cheapest model, the Fox, starts at a price of USD 19,000. That is hardly affordable for the average Nigerian.
The reality, therefore, does not seem to correspond to the image Innoson wants to convey to the public. But even if the company sometimes merely resells imported cars or only carries out final assembly in Nigeria to a certain extent, it still creates jobs and know-how and is good for Nigeria’s further economic development.
In any case, the Nigerian government supports Innoson’s ambitions to develop into a local car manufacturer. Numerous government contracts have been reported, for example. The government also artificially raises the price of imports of foreign cars by imposing customs duties.