Updated: Apr 2, 2021
A couple of years ago, the popular slogan, "The car in front of you is always a Toyota" was not just true but a staple of Kenyan road culture. Even children related the Toyota brand to cars the same way many of us who grew up in a certain generation, still refer to all soaps as Omo. The automotive industry in Kenya may seem small when viewed from a global perspective, but we are making subtle waves that have caught the attention of some of the world's largest automakers. The people at Toyota know just how much we as Kenyans trust the brand and have been extremely strategic in ensuring that the slogan rings true for years to come.
Toyota has invested considerably in assembling its most popular models locally. The fact the President is also keen to create more local jobs by encouraging the creation of local car assembly plants has been an added feather to their already stuffed cap. According to the Business Daily in an article published last month, the number of vehicles assembled locally has gone up by 2.2% Assemblers like Toyota benefit heavily from a 25% exemption on import duty on completely knocked down parts headed to assembly lines. This incentive has mostly benefitted the commercial and government sectors who are the biggest consumers of pickups, buses and trucks. The preference for second-hand cars means that majority of new personal use cars are imported fully built.
Putting Local Driver Logic To The Test...
Many Kenyans have learnt never to compromise on quality when buying cars, and for many, this lesson has been through a baptism of fire! The key reason Toyota still commands the largest market share is due to its unwavering quality. Ask anyone on the street and the answer will promptly roll off their lips. Toyota's are known not as just reliable but as the most reliable and affordable cars. The fact that fuel efficiency remains the most important criterion for Kenyan vehicle owners irrespective of gender, age, ownership history and vehicle brand also makes it easier to guess why every other driver in the country is behind the wheel of a Toyota. They consume fuel like a dream and are known to be very pocket-friendly. The however isn't the case anymore, as prices of Toyota models have steadily risen over the last few years. The presence of Toyota Kenya has also heavily influenced buying decisions, as many owners willingly part with their hard-earned cash for peace of mind knowing that they can easily get original spare parts and quality service checks directly from the manufacturer.
The Powerful Lure Of German Machines
The continuous escalation of Toyota prices has paved the way for German car brands to acquire larger shares of the local car market. From the beginning of time, Mercedes-Benz and BMW have captured the world with their stunning designs and luxurious appeal. These cars scream money, power, and most of all status. They provide an indescribable feeling when you are behind the wheel, and for many years these cars were very unattainable and privy to only those whose pockets were deep enough. Access to financing solutions and the clever marketing popularised by driver communities have led to more and more german model purchases. Whats's better than driving a car that makes everyone see you as a boss and fun road trips with like-minded individuals?
Brands like Audi and Volkswagen are not being left behind and their increased popularity has seen them rise up the ranks. The assembly facility, which it opened in December 2016, in Thika, Kenya, was the first semi-knockdown operation Volkswagen established as part of its sub-Saharan Africa expansion strategy. Its line up boasts the famous Tiguan, Caddy and favourite Vivo Polo that seen VW grow its market share to 5.3%. However, the biggest hurdle these German brands collectively face is their steep cost of maintenance and the struggle of sourcing genuine parts. They also have the reputation of being guzzlers and with current fuel prices, drivers today who have been affected negatively by the COVID-19 economic downturn will lean towards more economical options, despite their heart's desires.
Prioritising Safety When Making Car Purchase Decisions.
While road accidents continue to plague the nation, the government-sanctioned movement restrictions have forced a large number of Kenyans to park their cars and work from home. RTA's have gone down, but there have been spikes mostly attributed to driver error and poor vehicle maintainece every single time lockdown is lifted. The cars we drive can go a long way in protecting both passengers and pedestrians, and our team at Carhoot can not emphasize enough the importance of researching and verifying the safety of any car you want to buy.
But safety goes above and beyond road accidents. When we talk about safety we also make sure our clients are aware of which cars put a target on your back. Auto theft is a huge issue in Kenya, especially for those of us who live in towns and cities. It is no longer a secret that certain makes and models put drivers at higher risk because of the demand for spare parts and scrap metal in the black market. The auto-theft cartels have forced drivers today to opt for cars that have better security features because honestly, any price that gives you and your family safe and protects your investments is worth it.
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