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Nigeria’s leading vehicle manufacturer, Innoson Vehicles Manufacturing Company Ltd (IVM), has constructed a new multi-billion naira plant to start manufacturing sundry buses and heavy-duty trucks with engines that run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

The new CNG vehicles plant, which is about 90 percent completed and has the capacity to produce 30,000 vehicles a year, is expected to be commissioned soon.

Chairman of Innoson Group, Dr. Innocent Chukwuma, made the disclosure recently in a statement issued by IVM which assured that the company, in conjunction with the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), is planning to construct a plant that will produce tractors and other farm implements.

The new development about a new Innoson auto plant dedicated to the manufacturing of only CNG vehicles in Nnewi is coming at a time Nigerians are still expressing shock over the news that the Presidential Committee on CNG Initiative snubbed Innoson by excluding it from the list of auto companies the government awarded contracts for the procurement of thousands of ‘fuel-subsidy palliative’ buses.

The company said, “As a result of the wide acceptance of CNG vehicles Innoson has been manufacturing since 2022, the company, last year, embarked on the construction of a new multi-billion naira plant dedicated to the production of only automobiles that run on CNG.

“The new factory, which has the capacity to produce 30,000 units of CNG vehicles annually in one shift, has almost been completed and will be commissioned soon.”

Innoson’s statement, issued by Mr. Alfred Nwosu, a media consultant and Director of Innoson Group, was in response to a well-publicised appeal by a group of farmers, led by Chief Ebere Orji Odi, appealing to Chief Chukwuma and IVM to produce tractors and related implements to enhance mechanised farming and boost the economy.

Chief Odi, who is also an executive member of some farmers’ associations, underscored the importance of agriculture in the life of any nation and the obvious adverse implications of having an army of unemployed youths in any society, hence the need for Innoson and other companies to intervene with the manufacture of farm equipment to boost mechanised farming.

In its reaction, Innoson Vehicles said the farmers’ concerns “resonated with us at IVM,” disclosing that it was for this reason, that a couple of years ago, the automaker initiated a joint venture with the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) for the production of tractors and related agricultural equipment.

The project, Innoson Vehicles explained, “is presently witnessing a lull following the change of baton in the administration of the respected institution,” assuring, however, that when the plant eventually comes on stream, it will be producing tractors and farm implements to enhance mechanised agriculture under the brand name of Lion.

“This Lion project in the UNN is in line with IVM’s avowed commitment from inception to gradually satisfying the varied vehicular needs of the Nigerian market and the continent of Africa.

“Though Chief Chukwuma’s vision of top quality mobility for the people first manifested with the production of Nigeria’s first indigenous (Innoson) brand of motorcycles in the 90s, this commitment was formally enunciated on October 15, 2010, when then President Goodluck Jonathan commissioned the plant in Nnewi.

“The factory took off with the production of minibuses and pick-ups, with the former President so impressed that he directed that all government vehicles must thenceforth be sourced from Innoson and other local automakers.

“The ovation at the inauguration of the plant had hardly died down when Innoson commenced the expansion of the range with passenger cars, and later refuse management trucks.

“The IVM line-up has since been expanded to include medium, city (mass transit) and inter-city buses, sport utility vehicles (SUVs), family vehicles, purpose-built 4×4 pick-ups, military vehicles, as well as specialised vehicles like ambulances and fire trucks.

“Some of these vehicles have at different times been exported to Sierra Leone, Niger, Congo, Ghana, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso.

“In 2022, well ahead of fuel subsidy withdrawal, Innoson scored another first by commencing the manufacture of vehicles that run on compressed natural gas (CNG).

“The exclusive CNG plant project was encouraged by the success recorded by the autogas buses and other vehicles manufactured by IVM in the past two years,” the company official said.

Innoson, however, decried the questionable manner the Presidential Committee on CNG Initiative handled the award of contracts for the procurement of the autogas vehicles, which it alleged was skewed in favour of preferred companies, while shunning the Nnewi plant.

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