By Odunewu Segun
The Managing Director of Mercedes-Benz Centre, Benson Uwatse has said that the National Automotive Policy, launched in 2013 lacked proper legislation that would have assured international car makers of Nigeria’s seriousness in developing such a capital intensive industry.
Uwatse explained this at a press conference that was part of the event marking the 25th anniversary of the Mercedes-Benz Centre, 30th anniversary of the introduction of the 4-matic revolution by Mercedes-Benz as well as the 90 years of the B&O brand existence “Mercedes-Benz Centre, as a major dealer of the brand in Nigeria was never opposed to the auto policy; neither is Mercedes-Benz but the precipitous approach by the previous government is what I have issue with,” Uwatse explained.
According to Uwatse, aside from the fact that the National Assembly never passed any bill to support the policy, it was quite hasty of the government to introduce such a critical policy without taking into consideration opinion of key stakeholders.
“It took South-Africa almost 15 years to develop it auto industry. The country made sure all ancillary industries were put in place but the reverse is the case with Nigeria. No stable power, no ancillary manufacturers, all the tyre companies have left the country, and yet we are introducing a policy which hiked the tariff on vehicles by more than 50 per cent and making it effective within year?”
Uwatse explained that although, they have plans already on how to assemble Mercedes-Benz ambulances locally but the government must provide the enabling environment because build a car plant is very capital intensive.
Speaking on the impact of the policy, General Manager of MB Automobile Services, Michael Wagner said: “2015 has been a challenging year but as an organization we have managed the crisis successfully. Rather than of course shrinking, we have used the year as one for gathering momentum and restructuring our entire team. We’re transforming the way we operate to continuously improve our ability to satisfy all our customers no matter how large or small they are in every possible way.
Also commenting on the 4matic revolution by Mercedes-Benz, Wagner said its genes can be recognized in all SUVs from Mercedes-Benz, and they all pursue the same goal of being able to master any type of terrain. With the introduction of its new nomenclature, Mercedes-Benz SUVs now carry a ‘’G’’ in their name as a tribute to legendary G-Class.
“Today, 4MATIC is a core technology for a broad range of Mercedes-Benz SUV vehicles, numbering around 80 models worldwide. 4MATIC permanent all-wheel-drive provides for added dynamism, comfort and safety on normal roads and cross-country terrain alike, and is a striking example of a case where technology and deign meet at the intersection of comfort and practicality.