Kenya has access to used cars from Europe, America, and Dubai, but why are Nairobians importing used vehicles from Japan. Find out here.
Do you remember a time when owning a car was a luxury? When your family was prestigious if you owned a car.
Well, all that is in the past now.
Most Nairobians go by the statement, “A car is not a luxury; it’s a necessity.”
We need cars to go to work, visit folks upcountry, run errands, attend ceremonies, and hey, keep up with the Joneses.
We start our day far too early and go home much later. What better means of transport to use than a personal car?
Curiously, Nairobians aren’t buying new cars from Kenyan car manufacturers; they import used vehicles from Japan.
Let’s find out why.
1. A Growing Economy
A report by WorldBank stated that Kenya’s economic growth between 2015 – 2019 averaged 5.7%, placing us among the rapidly growing economies within Sub-Saharan Africa.
Banks focused on the employed, middle-class group, offering irresistible financial loans for cars and property during this period.
Banks bankrolled middle-class lifestyles allowing people who couldn’t afford cars in the past to swim in easily accessible loans.
Couple that with an array of car dealerships, and the result is an influx of motor vehicles.
The passenger car uptake of imported cars stood at 14,524 in 2001 rose six-fold to 85,063 vehicles in 2016.
2. Availability of High-Quality Cars from Japan
Japan is home to several auto giants, including Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Honda, that rival German-made and American-made cars in quality and affordability.
Japanese automakers have technological superiority that allows them to develop superior features and innovative tech for their cars.
This results in regular new car releases that don’t necessarily render the previous models obsolete.
Won’t this make their cars more expensive?
On the contrary, Japan ranks third in the global economy allowing its automakers to use economies of scale to mass-produce cars and sell them affordably.
The Japanese are tech-savvy people who regularly upgrade their cars more often to enjoy newer features. It’s not unusual to see near-new vehicles on sale.
Japan also has stringent rules that require all cars to undergo roadworthy inspections every two years.
Her people have developed a culture of taking excellent care of their vehicles. Most of them prefer trading in their three or five-year-old cars instead of spending tons of money on the inspection.
These are the main reasons Nairobians find used Japanese cars appealing.
3. Low Age Limit for Imported Cars
The Kenya Bureau of Standards set the age limit for imported vehicles to 8 years.
Once you or your agent successfully bid for a used car, it must undergo inspection by the KEBS appointed agent – Quality Inspection Services Japan (QISJ).
The QISJ ensures all vehicles shipping to Kenya meets legal requirements, including the eight-years or less age limit.
This helps ensure that only high-quality used vehicles will be brought into our country. For Nairobians, the “newer” the car, the more years of service it will offer them.
4. Japanese Cars Have Good Resale Value
Interestingly, Nairobians buy cars intending to sell them, possibly at the same price or slightly lower.
Most buyers consider keeping their cars for three to five years before disposing of them for a newer used car.
Toyotas typically depreciate much slower, which means their owners are likely to sell them at a higher price than other brands.
It’s no wonder they are a common sight in the streets of Nairobi.
5. Practicality and Low Fuel Consumption
Most Japanese cars are trendy and affordable, but Nairobians have a special affinity for particular vehicles.
These vehicles are practical for business and enjoy low fuel consumption. Some of the most common cars Nairobians export include:
The Mazda Demio looks flashy and modern and is increasingly popular among young professionals. Its small profile and low weight make it easier to maneuver around corners and park.
Despite its smaller size, the interior offers enough space for up to five passengers. The seats are comfortable and legroom reasonable. It also has a practical boot for luggage with rear seats folding flat for additional space.
The Demio has a small engine, enjoys low fuel consumption, and is cheaper to maintain.
The relationship Nairobians have with the Toyota Probox is comparable to the Man U and Arsenal relationship. You are either rooting for this car or can’t come within touching distance of it.
Yet, the Probox holds great appeal for families and business people. It’s a workhorse equipped with engines optimized for speedy performance and low fuel consumption.
It has a spacious interior that accommodates five adults without breaking a sweat.
The Probox has a massive boot that appeals to business people who transport goods to their customers.
The rear seats fold flat, increasing usable space. Readily available spare parts increase its overall appeal.
Increased disposable income, availability of high-quality cars, and a straightforward importation process are some factors why Nairobians import used vehicles from Japan.
Would you import a used car from Japan? Let us know in the comments.