Ford, the second largest US automaker, has announced it would start the production assembly of its top-selling Ranger pickup truck in Nigeria sometimes during the fourth quarter.
The US company is seeking an expansion in Africa and the Middle East, with the Nigerian assembly facility, developed in partnership with Ford dealer Coscharis Motors Limited, is the company’s first on the continent outside South Africa, where the Ranger is built for sales across 148 markets. “Nigeria is a priority market for us in sub-Saharan Africa,” commented Jeff Nemeth, the president and CEO of Ford division handling business in sub-Saharan Africa. “Depending on how Nigeria develops over time … we are potentially looking at using our Nigerian plant to service West Africa,” he added. The executive also said Nigeria – the largest economy on the continent – has tremendous potential in terms of the automotive market but still captures just a fraction of new vehicle sales each year. The local auto market is currently dominated by imported used autos, as there is little financing to help consumers purchase new vehicles and no industrial policy to attract suppliers to invest in Nigeria.
The Ikeja factory located near Lagos will assemble the Ford Ranger using parts and components shipped from South Africa, with an initial assembly capability of 5,000 units per year, for use across the Nigerian internal market. Ford builds 85,000 Rangers annually in South Africa, servicing from there 24 African markets. Competitors, such as Renault-Nissan, South Korea’s Kia and Germany’s Volkswagen have also recently announced plans for assembly work in Africa’s most populous nation.