Dinesh Kotecha
Kenya Motor Industry Association
Rita Kavashe
Simba Corporation
Toyota Kenya

New vehicle sales jump 13pc in Q1

Sales of new motor vehicles jumped 13.6 per cent in the first quarter ended March.

Dealers attribute this to realisation of orders that were suspended last year amidst uncertainty caused by the general election.

Unit sales of the dealers including Toyota Kenya and Simba Corporation stood at 3,130 in the review period compared to 2,755 the year before, according to statistics from the Kenya Motor Industry Association (KMI).

“The industry is benefiting from a pent-up demand. Some buyers waited to see the outcome of the election,” said Dinesh Kotecha, the chief executive of Simba whose brands include BMW cars and Mitsubishi trucks.

“We will have to wait and see if there is significant new demand in the coming months which will be a result of improved economic performance.”

The run-up to the August 2017 General Election led to suspension of vehicle purchases among other capital investment decisions, with the uncertainty extended by the nullification of the presidential results and orders for a new poll.

Consumer spending and business expansion tends to slow down when elections approach, hurting vehicle dealers and sellers of other high-value goods. Dealers recorded a 20.3 per cent drop in sales to 11,044 units last year, the second consecutive sales fall from which they could recover if the rebound seen in the first quarter is maintained.

KMI’s chairperson Rita Kavashe, who is also the chief executive of Isuzu East Africa, said in a recent interview that the industry is anticipating a sales jump of 10 per cent this year.

Toyota and Simba were among the biggest beneficiaries of increased demand in the first quarter.

Toyota’s unit sales rose to 812 in the review period compared to 642 a year earlier while Simba’s increased to 512 from 466.

Isuzu, the largest dealer, however saw a contraction to 881 units from 971 units. This saw Toyota, the second largest dealer, narrow the gap with Isuzu.

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