Number of motor vehicles assembled locally up 2.2pc


Trucks at the Isuzu East Africa yard Nairobi. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO

The number of motor vehicles assembled locally rose 2.2 per cent in the year ended December, accounting for 63.6 per cent all new auto sales.

Data from the Kenya Motor Industry Association (KMI) shows that the formal dealers including Simba Corporation, Toyota Kenya and Isuzu East Africa assembled a total of 7,052 units in the review period.

This was a slight increase from 6,894 units that were assembled in 2019.

Most of the vehicles put together at plants such as Isuzu, Kenya Vehicle Manufacturers and Associated Vehicle Assemblers are sold in the local market.

A small fraction of the production is exported to neighbouring markets like Uganda.

Assemblers enjoy an exemption from 25 per cent import duty on completely knocked down parts headed to assembly lines.

The policy is aimed at boosting manufacturing jobs besides enhancing skills transfer.

The incentive has mostly benefitted the commercial vehicle segment — pick-ups, buses and trucks that are bought by the government and businesses.

Most passenger cars are imported fully-built new or used from overseas due to lack of local assembly of many models besides a preference for cheaper second-hand units.

Isuzu, the largest assembler, produced 3,837 units of its namesake vehicles in the review period, 2.7 per cent down from 3,944 in 2019.

It was followed by Simba Corporation which assembled 1,402 units of Mitsubishi and Mahindra commercial vehicles, a 13.5 per cent reduction compared to 1,621 a year earlier.

Toyota Kenya assembled 1,150 units across its namesake and Hino models, registering a 39.7 per cent increase from 823 and making it the only major dealer to boost output.

Assemblers of commercial vehicles got a further boost in 2019 when the government introduced a ban on imports of used trucks with load capacities of 3.5 tonnes and above.

The prohibition came through an amendment to the standards for motor vehicles by the Kenya Bureau of Standards.