The situation today is that the Nigerian auto market is a peculiar one, getting heated up and creating so much flare. These are all about multiple franchising, where the rights to one auto brand are held by more than one company; brands at the centre of this are Hyundai, Greatwall, Mitsubishi, Ford, Foton and Ashok Leyland.

According to findings, for some of these brands, it is the manufacturers’ policy (Mitsubishi, Foton) but for others it is the indiscipline in the regulatory mechanism in the country that is being exploited by the manufacturers or the local players involved.

The Greatwall, JAC and Jinbel brands for instance came into the country as a ‘free for all’ bonanza for importers.

Initially, the National Truck Manufacturers (NTM) concern and CFAO CICA contested for the soul of the Greatwall brand, CFAO succeeded in becoming the brand builder, leaving NTM to lick its wound. The JAC brand has not been so lucky; between Sun Motors and Basco Motors, managing the brand was contentious until Sun Motors dropped out.

For the Honda brand, the battle has been long and tough; the battle won and lost. Between Stallion Motors and Globe Motors, it’s been a long drawn battle that led nowhere. What we have now is a stalemate with the two pushing the brand with passion and vigour. Just when we thought something in the semblance of a truce was taking shape, attention of the motoring public was drawn to a series of adverts in the newspaper by the two gladiators announcing the start of trading business in the Hyundai commercial and passenger model line up. While Stallion Group is promoting the passenger line up, Globe Motors is riding high with the commercial segment. We are left to conjecture who actually owns the Hyundai brand in Nigeria or has Hyundai adopted the Mitsubishi and Ford formulae.

The Mitsubishi story is quite different in the sense that from inception, the brand has always been handled by multiple franchises. According to a report by Onwheels magazine, in the 70’s the Mitsubishi brand was under the hoods of Odua Group’s Phoenix Motors and Mrs Kuforiji Olubi’s VYB Company.

Now, it is under the supervision of CFAO Motors and the Chanrai Group. From this background, it is deducible that multiple holding is the policy of the brand owners.

In a similar drift, the same Mitsubishi formulae may have been adopted by Ford Motor Corporation of USA when it appointed almost simultaneously Messrs Coscharis Motors and BriscoFord as its franchise holders. This deliberate policy has left Ford models with the burden of brand building.

The story of the Skoda brand would have played out the way as the others, but for the tactical withdrawal of the founding chairman of the initial company to secure it for Nigeria, Mrs Mandilas of Mandilas Motors. After the company had lavishly held a press launch of the Skoda brand, it came to light that Stallion Motors, present owners of the brand, probably taking advantage of its hold on the Volkswagen brand, the parent company, had acquired the Skoda brand. A quiet retreat by the Mandilas Group saved the day for the brand.