Simba Corporation has launched Proton X70 in the Kenyan market as it seeks to tap the slow, but growing demand for new cars.
The Sh 4.8 million SUV is the flagship model of the Malaysian car brand Proton.
Kenya’s monthly new car sales increased in September as the automotive market picked from a slowdown in August.
Latest Kenya Motor Industry Association (KMIA) data shows sales for the month under review increased to 1,092 units up from 954 units in August, with Isuzu East Africa continuing to dominate the market.
Nine-month sales however fell short of last year’s numbers with the 18 dealers in the market selling a total of 9,868 units.
These are 49 units less compared to the 9,917 new cars sold in the local market in the same period last year, signaling the slowdown during the elections will affect this year’s total sales.
Last year, a total of 14,250 units were sold.
These are both entirely built units and knocked downs, which are delivered in parts (imports) and assembled locally.
Since its inception into the Kenyan market in 2020, Proton has sold over 150 vehicles.
Simba Corp said that it has invested over Sh243.1 million ($ 2 million) into Associated Vehicle Assemblers (AVA) for the local assembly of Proton vehicles.
Proton SAGA was the first fully built salon car locally assembled at the Simba Corp AVA facility established in Mombasa.
Speaking during the event, Simba Corp CEO Dinesh Kotecha said that the local assembly of Proton SAGA has helped introduce the Proton brand into the Kenyan market.
“We are very excited that the market has embraced this brand and we are happy to continue introducing new Proton products into the market,” Kotecha said.
Malaysian High Commission Charge D’Affaires Fatin Haris said that Kenya is a very important market for Malaysia and a leading partner with East Africa.
“Currently Kenya is Malaysia’s number one export destination for Malaysia’s products in the African continent,” Haris said.
She said that the total trade value has increased by 84 percent over the previous year.
“These developments have been made possible by the goodwill and cordial relations that exist between the Republic of Kenya and Malaysia,” she said.
The number of new cars sold in the market is, however, a small margin of used imported cars on Kenyan roads, which the majority of households tend to prefer mainly due to their lower prices.
Kenyans import an average of 7,000 to 9,000 used cars a month mainly from Japan (80 percent), the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, and South Africa.
According to a TechSci Research report, growing demand for performance cars, increasing product offerings, rising preference for off-roading activities and expected entry of several automakers will drive the sales of SUVs in Middle East & Africa through 2023.
The report said that the Middle East and African SUV market is projected to reach $ 46.9 billion by 2023.
“This is on account of growing per capita income, technological advancements in SUV and foray of several automakers in the region.”
It said that the growing popularity of SUVs for off-roading sports tournaments and increasing preference for premium SUVs would positively influence the region’s SUV market.
“Demand for SUVs in the Middle East and Africa region is anticipated to keep growing in the coming years.”