The tragedy of Izuogu Z-600, the very first made-in-Nigeria car

Unknown to many, Innoson is not the first indigenous automaker in Nigeria. Looks like you have been wrong all these times. Dr. Ezekiel Izuogu, who happens to be a lecturer at the Federal Polytechnic Nekede and also an electrical engineer, created the Izuogu Z-600 in 1997. This invention came out to be the first locally produced car on the African continent.

The chief inventor, Dr. Ezekiel Izuogu

According to report reaching us, 12-man committee was set up under the military regime of General Sani Abacha, to evaluate the authenticity and road worthiness of this locally produced car. After the whole inspection exercise, the car, designed and manufactured by Dr. Izuogu, was given a clean bill of health by the committee in charge.

The Prototype Izuogu Z-600 was the first locally-produced car in Nigeria

The first indigenous car – Z-600 was later unveiled at an organized ceremony by the Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen Oladipo Diya, who duly represented General Sani Abacha. The unveiling event was also graced by 20 ambassadors from foreign countries. As a result, a sum of N235 million was promised as a grant to Dr. Izuogu to further the project. Up to this very moment, the proposed money was never granted nor redeemed. From what we learnt, the invention was met with lots of criticisms from Nigerian media houses. Other challenges that prevented the car from leaving the prototype stage were political and financial hurdles.

Interestingly, the Izuogu Z-600 started gaining the attention of other countries from Africa as at 2005. One of the notable examples of interest from African countries was when South Africa showed a big interest in the model during a speech given by the inventor in 2006. Dr. Izuogu was asked by the South African government to set up a manufacturing plant in their country, which he refused. He disclosed that he planned to offer the employment opportunities from this massive project to Nigerians, who might not benefit if he went ahead to start the production in a foreign country.

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On the 11th of March 2006, Dr. Izuogu’s plant located at Naze, Imo State, was stormed by 12 heavily armed men, who carted away with lots of expensive tools and machines, such as design file Z-MASS (design book containing the Z-600 mass production) and Z-600 design history note book. The moulds specified for every component of the car were also carted away.

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Ever since the unfortunate occurrence at the plant, nothing much has been heard of the car or project till now. According to further report, we heard that many unauthorized versions of the Z-600 have been manufactured in many countries in the world.

What is Dr. Izuogu doing presently?

The Chief inventor of Izuogu Z-600, Dr. Izuogu is presently involved in the development and design of the Izuogu Engine, also known as emagnetodynamics car engine, an event under the World International Property Organizations.

Izuogu Z-600 general overview

The prototype – Z600 was powered with an originally-made 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine, with 18 miles per gallon. The Izuogu Z-600 offers a peak speed of 86 mph (140 km/hr). The inventor reportedly went for front wheel drive system instead of rear wheel drive. This decision was due to the expensive nature of the transmission tunnel accustomed with rear wheel drive. Ninety percent of the components used on the car were made using local materials.

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Just like French Renault 4, the Nigerian-made Z-600 was a utility model, offering front end and upright stand like that of the locally-assembled Peugeot 504. The car was set to be sold at a retail price of $2000, which could have made it the world’s cheapest car at that time. To achieve this mouthwatering cheap price, the inventor made few modifications such as replacing the usual horn with doorbell.

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Nothing interests me more than cars. The rich history, anticipation and impeccable efforts put into its designs and performances. Writing about cars has become a passion and a true source of happiness.

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