The 2009 Total Kenya Motorshow was held over the weekend. Since the last motor show was held in 2007, much has changed in the motor industry, mainly the global economic downturn, Kenya electoral violence and the dip in the fortunes of car manufacturers & dealers.
Who’s missing? Kenya Revenue Authority, CMC (Ford, Land & Range Rover Mazda, VW, Audi)
GM Kenya the Hummer is now old news in Kenya, and the highlight of their display was a dressed up a Chevy Optra. The 1800 cc car that costs Kshs 2.46M was outfitted with a Government of Kenya Flag and made for a very elegant slap in the face of Government Ministers who have resisted giving up their fuel-guzzling Mercedes limousines that costs 3X as much. NTV reports that the Government is buying over 100 new VW Passat’s, but it will be interesting to see if the top leaders will hand over their Mercedes cars, and what will happen to the fleet afterwards.
DT Dobie: had the new E-Class Mercedes which costs EUR74k (~Kshs 8M) while the smaller C-class Kompressor cost 6.2M and the new B class costs 4.7M. Also an icon of Kenya roads, the 1200 Datsun/Nissan pickup has finally been replaced with the NP200, a 1.6 litre pickup that cost 1.2M. They are big in trucking and the award-winning Actros was on show at a cost of about Kshs. 9.9M for new trucks, which can take a few weeks to order and deliver. Many local transporters import used Actros trucks from Europe at about ½ the cost. The dealers also sell the Chrysler 300 for $72,600 (~Kshs. 5.5M)
Toyota Kenya Toyota is the most popular car in Kenya, and they often advertise the slogan the car in front of you is always a Toyota They had the Land cruiser VX cost Kshs. 12M, but the diplomats, local NGO’s and donor groups can have it for 7.58M. Also, the popular Prado costs 5.6M, with the duty-free price is 3.74M and the hardworking Hilux double cab costs 3.69M, with a duty-free price of 2.45M
Simba Colt: the long-time dealers of Mitsubishi are now the new franchise holders for BMW of which they brought a whole range of cars; these included all diesel models of the 530D at 90,300 euros (~Kshs 9.3M) which is about 1.3m more than an E-class Mercedes favoured by the Kenya Government), X5 diesel for 100,000 euro (~10.9M) and vying for the title of new status symbol in Nairobi (currently held by range rover sport)is the (ugly?) X6 whose diesel version is 95,000 euro (~10.4M). The company also had the usual stock of Mitsubishi cars and trucks including the Fuso prime mover which costs 9.04M
Subaru: Had several cars including the Tribeca which Kshs. 6.8 million, and the 2009 Forester that costs Kshs 4.15M. Also, car owners can order Subaru spare parts by phone, pay for them by M-Pesa and have them delivered.
Dealers for Indian Car companies were there for Tata, Mahindra, Ashok Leyland. Mahindra got a bad reputation in Kenya many years ago when the police acquired some sub-standard used vehicles through political middlemen that did not last long, and that image is yet to be cleaned up. They had a double cab pickup for 2.45M. Tata had many trucks and vehicles on display, and sales guys said that the Nano will be available in two months in Kenya, at a cost of Kshs. 250,000 (~$3,300 after our hefty vehicle taxes)
Dealers for China Car companies were also present. These included Transafrica for the increasingly popular FAW, Nelion (whose Beiben truck closely resembles a Mercedes Actros) and Abson Motors. You see many Chinese trucks on the road these days, mostly working on government building projects being done by Chinese road construction companies. -FAW prime movers cost about 5.9M, and are increasingly popular with transport companies because of their manual features (not too heavy on the electronics, computerization of the Euro trucks), while the company also had a new pick up truck, the admiral, which costs 1.4M
Auto accessory companies these included lots of anti-theft/car tracking (rivercress, stoic) companies, fleet management (AFMS), driving schools (Automobile Association of Kenya, GlenEdmund), body-builders like Sai Raj who even fibreglass boats and bus builders KVM – who lamented the shortcuts that other bus (body) builders use in construction e.g. use of arc welding, which results in weak buses that are easily shredded in road accidents, leading to high casualties.
Also present in a big way was G4S – as the former security company has diversified into a whole range of services including fire fighting, ambulances, home fires safety (extinguishers blankets), training (fire safety), vehicle tracking, all to go along with their traditional 24-hour burglary response
Auto financiers present were several banks (KCB, NIC, Bank of Africa, Diamond Trust (best bank in asset finance), Stanbic) and car insurers Heritage, CIC and CFC Life (who all had very aggressive salespeople)