Nigerians imported 96,629 vehicles between January and September of 2012, the Nigerian Automobile Manufacturers Association said in its latest statistics.
A breakdown of the figures showed that 22,192 of the vehicles were new and 74,437 vehicles were used ones.
Of the new vehicles, there was, however, a drop of 65.7 per cent compared with 36,773 new vehicles imported within the same period last year.
But last year’s figure of new vehicles was 40.8 per cent higher than the previous year’s, which stood at 26,113 vehicles as at September 2010.
Cars got the highest figure of new vehicle imports with 11,992 vehicles, followed by buses/vans with 5,443 vehicles; the sport utility vehicles had 1,093 vehicles and pickups got 635 vehicles.
The total number of new trucks imported was given as 3,029 vehicles.
The highest number of new vehicles came in February when 4,942 vehicles were imported; January followed with 3,184 vehicles and March had the least number with 376 vehicles.
In the used vehicles category, the story is not too different from the new vehicles. For instance, from the table, 37,061 used vehicles were imported; 20, 448 buses/vans came in; 13, 564 trucks, 1,939 SUVs and 1,425 pickups were imported during the period.
The statistics also showed that the highest number of used vehicles came in January with 9,107 vehicles, followed by 8,900 used vehicles in February 2012. March had the least figure, which was given as 6,477 vehicles.
Although our correspondent could not readily get the import statistics for used vehicles last year, the Director-General, National Automatic Council, Mr. Aminu Jalal, last year gave the total number of vehicles imported into the country annually as 280,000 units.
He specifically said Nigeria was spending N400bn annually on the importation of 200,000 used and 80,000 new vehicles.
Jalal’s figures were indicative of a gradual pick up in the auto market following the successful conduct of general elections. Elected politicians were expected to place orders for new vehicles as they settled down in their new offices ready to complete old projects and execute new ones.
A consultant in automobile matters, Dr. Oscar Odiboh, said in election year, the country would expectedly buy more vehicles than in any other period, which was why the figure for 2012 was lower than last year’s.
He also explained that the poor state of economy could be another reason for the drop in the import figure.
Car sales in Nigeria are an alternative measure of private purchasing power, a leading economic indicator.
The Managing Director, National Truck Manufacturers, Mr. Ibrahim Bayero, had earlier said the increase in the operation of local automobile companies and the patronage of their products could also bring down the number of vehicle imports this year.
Car sales in Nigeria took a hit in 2009 and were on a downward trend after credit dried up in the wake of an initial $4bn bail-out of nine banks by the Central Bank of Nigeria.