The Peugeot 508 GT that took top honors at the six-state 2020 Argungu Rally this year was assembled in Nigeria, just one of the many brands that have chosen the west Africa country as a vehicle manufacturing hub.
Until the arrival of the Corona virus on West African shores, local vehicle production in Nigeria had been estimated to grow at over twenty percent in 2020, after the Nigerian government made local manufacturing a priority growth area.
Peugeot has been assembling vehicles in Nigeria since 1972 and the 508 GT and 301 are the flagship models for the company.
The rally, which flagged off in the capital Abuja, crossed four states before finishing in Argungu in Kebbi State, site of the annual Argungu Fishing Festival. The motoring event is Nigeria’s only official rally – though this year’s event took on the form of a tour rather than a rally, with the event looking to garner interest from the public in both local manufacturing and the sport itself.
Other locally manufactured vehicles participating in the three-day event included Hyundai, GAC Motors with the GA3S, GS4, GS3 and GA4 variants; JMC with a pick-up, Dongfeng trucks and Yutong buses. Peugeot entered its 508 and 301 Allure as well as a 4×4 pickup and its JV-produced PAN-Higer H5C bus.
In the run from Abuja to Nasarawa, Kaduna, Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi States, Peugeot manufacturer PAN Nigeria made a very public statement by winning almost every category including winning driver, with Shima Shimbe taking top honors in the Peugeot 508 GT.
A visibly elated Ibrahim Tanko, managing director and chief executive of PAN, said that the company’s decision to participate was a demonstration of support for
the aspirations of Nigeria’s National Automotive Design and Development
Council (NADDC) to create opportunities for the sector. Joseph Adesanya, PAN’s head of marketing highlighted the 508’s performance, comfort, fuel economy, adaptability and safety features that all added to the car’s overall win.
Peugeot has long had a reputation in Africa for ruggedness and durability, after producing specially made-for-Africa models in the 1970’s that led to the car – specifically the 404 and the 504 models – becoming a favorite on the continent. The brand has a series of successes in the East Africa Safari Rally, while 504’s can still be seen amongst the vehicles at taxi ranks in Nigeria.