Businesses & Financial News

Kenya new vehicle sales soar in August on relaxed restrictions

By Remie Otieno

New vehicle sales continued its growth streak as dealers benefitted from easing of coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown measures, preliminary industry data shows.

Statistics from Kenya Motor Industry Association (KMI) shows that a total of 1,472 vehicles were sold in August compared to 1,044 units sold in a similar period last year, bringing to a total of 8,811 units sold since January 2021.

Car dealers expect a better fourth quarter buoyed by the impressive growth since April this year when the industry recovery began to sprout.

It is expected that the Kenyan auto industry to perform even better beyond this year despite the Coronavirus pandemic owing to the demand for commercial vehicles, with the sector poised to hit over 12,000 total units by the close of 2021.

Market players said the reopening of the economy six months ago had provided some welcome relief for the industry, and the August figures also suggest that dealers in used cars could record an improvement next month.

This is after most dealers in that segment were forced to cut prices by up to 15 per cent for most part of last year and partly at the beginning of the year in response to depressed demand because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pace of decline at the time, had been evident for most car dealers until April this year – when recovery trend was palpably seen owing to effects of the pandemic even though sentiments from industry observers predict better months ahead because of near full economic rebound.

With a huge number of Kenyan workforce now back to working from their offices, the market can only get better, according to car enthusiast Trevor Lumenya.

Kenyan workforce, especially those drawn from the private sector, faced by financial uncertainty, were driving far less for leisure activities as automakers faced declined sales.

The private sector has largely contributed to the industry’s growth with output and new orders rising solidly and fastest in a year amid loosened travel restrictions. That expansion was seen following the relaxation of measures on curfews and travel between counties. Firms also reported an increase in client orders.

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