How to Make Auto Policy Work
Managing Director of Mercedes-Benz Centre, Benson Uwatse has cautioned the National Automotive Design and Development Council in its drive to implement the auto policy, saying there is no proper legislation on it by the National Assembly.
Uwatse disagreed that a Semi-Knocked Down (SKD) vehicle will be less cost effective compared to fully built imported ones.
He spoke in Lekki, Lagos at a briefing to mark the 25th anniversary of Mercedes-Benz Automobile Services, 30 years of four-wheel drive system developed by Mercedes-Benz (4matic) and 90 years of Bang & Olufsen.
The government, he said, needs to examine the auto policy thoroughly before its full implementation for it to be effective.
“You cannot announce a policy today and say it is taking effect from tomorrow. That has always been our problem with it and since then we have been struggling with it,” he said.
According to him, it took South African automotive industry 15 years to get to where they are today, urging the council to take a gradual process.
He identified lack of infrastructure as one of the banes of the sector.
“Where is the Infrastructure? In Nigeria today we do not have an industry that manufacture windscreen wiper, which is the smallest and cheapest level of ancillary item you need in a car. Even the tire industry has disappeared to Ghana and other places,” he said.
Uwatse said much as they are not oppose to the policy, Mercedes- Benz would not want their cars assembled where the skills to handle them are not available.
“In my workshop for instance, for every technician that we find good enough to employ, we would have interviewed nothing less than nine before we pick one that we could train and you tell me that I should assemble these cars behind you in Nigeria?” he queried.
Uwatse described the anniversary as a special occasion for his company.
“We used to be Mercedes-Benz shop out there in Masha, Surulere” he recalled, adding: “And it was our dream that one day, we would have a place called Mercedes-Benz Centre. We did it in 2011.”
Mercedes-Benz, he noted, had been in business for 130 years, while Band & Olufsen had done 90 years.
“And to celebrate their 90th year, they invented something that does not look like loudspeakers,” he said.
Uwatse said there is a synergy between Mercedes-Benz and Bang &Olufsen, saying sound systems in most Mercedes-Benz come from the latter.
“Bang & Olufsen is a high-end quality product and Mercedes-Benz is also a high-end quality product. In Nigeria, I am the link between the two. If you look into our database, you’d find that quite a few of the people that have bought Mercedes-Benz cars from us have also bought bang and Olufsen.”
Emphasising the synergy between the two premium brands, the General Manager of Bang & Olufsen Nigeria Limited, Mrs Chinwe Uwatse said just as one could find 40-year-old G-Wagon that is still on the road, and the owner will not sell it, the same is applicable to buyers of Bang & Olufsen products.
Source: The Nation Nigeria