Local motor vehicle assemblies companies are foreseeing setting higher sales after President Uhuru Kenyatta directed all ministries and other state agencies to buy locally assembled cars.
Speaking in Mombasa, Simba Colt Motors Mombasa branch manager Francis Kariuki said the president’s initiative will make customers gain confidence in locally assembled vehicles.
Kariuki also said the sale of the locally assembled Proton Saga vehicles is picking up as more Kenyans embrace the units. The locally Proton Saga saloon car was commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Associated Vehicle Assemblers (AVA) in Miritini, Mombasa, in December last year.
The manager said so far the government has ordered more than 35 units of Proton Saga car N70 model while the police ordered more 100 plus units of Mahindra pick-ups which he says is a boost to their company.
He said the sale of the locally assembled Proton Saga vehicles is picking up, where in Mombasa they are selling about two units per month and in Nairobi five units per month.
With the National Automotive Policy aiming at banning the importation of fully built up (FBU) vehicles with an engine capacity exceeding 1500cc, Kariuki the local assemblers will be able to sell more new vehicles and the directive will help in providing ready market to the locally manufactured vehicles.
“If that is implemented, the customers will now have no choice but to come back for the locally manufactured new vehicles,” said Kariuki.
He argued that there will be little to no difference between importing a second-hand vehicle and buying a brand new one, which will translate to more work at the workshop and more sales.
“Importing a relatively new vehicle is very expensive. It will mean it would be better to buy locally than import,” said Kariuki.
When the locally assembled Proton Saga vehicle was launched by President Uhuru last year at Miritini Mombasa, the price per unit was Sh1.1 million inclusive of VAT.
Unfortunately the price shot up to Sh1.566 million.Kariuki said the global Covid-19 affected the freight charges which increased from $800 (approximately Sh88,500) to close $2,000 (approximately Sh221,300) to bring in a kit for a Proton.
He also noted there were issues with container availability which drove their prices up and he is hoping normalization from the pandemic.the freight charges will come down making the vehicle affordable to Kenyans once again.
Kariuki also decried stiff competition from imported second-hand vehicles especially in Mombasa, where second hand showrooms business is the biggest and thriving well.