One-on-One with Adil Popat

Simba Colt Group chief executive Adil Popat. PHOTO | LIZ MUTHONI | NMG
Simba Colt Group chief executive Adil Popat. PHOTO | LIZ MUTHONI | NMG 

Is the Kenyan market ready for ultra-luxury vehicles like Rolls-Royce and what would it take to introduce the brand to the wealthy, especially now that they have ordered five Bentleys?

Rolls-Royce is a very sophisticated brand and it will be a challenge to bring it into this environment. We need to wait.

What about a Mini?
Mini is also a very sophisticated brand and we haven’t yet seen a big demand for it in Kenya.

What numbers would justify introducing the Mini locally?

For Mini, about 100 units a year.

BMW has 11 models currently in its line-up. Why are local sales low yet globally it is among the top?

New brands that are more expensive overseas have the ability (somehow) to sell at substantially cheaper prices than an equivalent BMW.

What is hindering BMW 3, 5 and 7 Series from taking on the Mercedes Benz C, E and S Class as the preferred luxury cruisers for the discerning local C-Suite group?

Most large, luxury saloon cars are sold to the government. We have better choices {cars} but still find it tough to penetrate this market.

Renault has struggled to grow locally under previous dealerships. How is Renault Kenya approaching this passionate French product and what market share do you aspire for?

We are pushing the brand as a value proposition. With the Kwid and Duster, I believe we are winning the battle.

I have tested the Scorpio SUV extensively and it is a strong Mahindra car. Do you intend to add any new models to the line-up?

We add new models all the time. Mahindra is a fantastic brand for Africa. We need to convince Kenyans to try them and see its great value. They are also very reliable and once people understand this we will have a high market share.

With technologies advancing fast, what can Kenya do to prepare for electric as well as autonomous vehicles of the future?

The cost of electricity is too high. This needs to come down. Once this happens then we need to develop some infrastructure to attract electrical cars.

Do you have any plans to add new brands to your portfolio. If yes which ones and if Not, what would need to change for you to consider increasing your offering?

We have no immediate plans to add new brands. The market conditions currently are very difficult.

What needs to happen to change the future of the local car industry?

Age of imported used cars must be lowered, excise duty reduced and more incentives given to rev up production.