Locally assembled vehicles rise 80pc on demand surge


Workers at the Isuzu East Africa Vehicle Assembly plant on Mombasa Road during December 2018 media tour. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

The number of motor vehicles assembled locally rose 80 percent in the first half of the year in what players attributed to pent-up demand arising from the reopening of the economy.

Kenya Motor Industry Association (KMI) data shows that formal dealers led by Isuzu East Africa, Toyota Kenya and Simba Corp produced 4,357 vehicles in the period, up from 2,425 the year before.

This means that the assemblers produced nearly 70 percent of all the 6,246 new vehicles sold in the period, with the balance mostly comprising imports of fully-built cars.

The bulk of the assembled units are commercial vehicles –pick-ups, trucks and buses— though dealers are adding more passenger car models to their assembly lines.

Dealers say they have ramped up production at the factory floors to meet demand as the economy comes off a series of lockdowns that were imposed to control the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The first half has been strong because of back orders,” said Rita Kavashe, Isuzu’s chief executive officer.

“The economy is recovering from the depths of last year.”

Isuzu, which has a plant in Nairobi’s Industrial Area, increased its unit output by 922 to assemble 2,323 of its namesake vehicles in the review period.

Toyota, a customer of Thika-based Kenya Vehicle Manufacturers, raised its production by 526 to 856 units of its namesake and Hino models.

Simba Corp was third, assembling 365 more of Mitsubishi, Mahindra and Proton vehicles to reach 834 units at its Associated Vehicle Assemblers plant in Mombasa.

Local assemblers now produce nearly 20 models including buses, trucks, pick-ups and passenger cars such as Peugeot 3008 (SUV) and 508 (sedan).

Production and sales numbers of Peugeot are, however, not reported by the local franchise holder Urysia Limited.

Most of the assembled vehicles are sold in the local market while a small fraction of the production is exported to neighbouring markets like Uganda.