Kenyan drivers will soon be behind the wheel of Isuzu D-MAX bakkies manufactured in kit form in South Africa and sent to that country for assembly in the Isuzu manufacturing facility there.
Isuzu Motors South Africa in Port Elizabeth has started supplying the knocked down (KD) Isuzu D-MAX pick-up kits in what is the first intra-continental regional trade exchange of its kind for Isuzu on the continent and is aligned to its strategy for its South African vehicle assembly plant to serve as a hub for growing its overall volumes in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Isuzu Motors Limited, majority shareholder of Isuzu East Africa, regards the opportunities in Africa, based on infrastructural investment, to be significant. The East African operation previously focussed only on truck and bus assembly operations while fully importing light commercial vehicles from South Africa.
Isuzu is a leading brand in the East African markets, with a commanding 44,5% share of the Kenyan new vehicle market in 2019.
Isuzu Motors South Africa CEO and Managing Director Michael Sacke said Isuzu’s market strength in East Africa can be contributed to the vehicles’ overall performance, reliability and customer satisfaction.
“We have put this project together in record time and anticipate it will result in a win-win for both South Africa and Kenya. Some of the vehicle kits have already arrived in Kenya and the Kenyan team received comprehensive training in Port Elizabeth late last year in preparation for actual operations,” he says.
The vehicle kits which are exported from the Port of Ngqura provides additional volume at the port while ensuring job retention at the South African plant.
While volumes have been projected at 1 300 vehicles a year to Kenya through this KD programme, it is expected this will increase in the medium to long-term.
“The Kenya KD project is an important step in achieving our growth strategy which is geared at strengthening our presence in key Sub-Saharan Africa markets through a combination of tactical SKD initiatives as well as various initiatives to strengthen our dealer distribution network,” emphasised Sacke.
Rita Kavashe, Managing Director of Isuzu East Africa, welcomed the decision to import KD kits. She said the KD programme gives the Kenyan operation more flexibility and an opportunity to remain competitive.
“Our import tariffs are lower on the KD kits, we create employment and we positively influence employee and customer morale by assembling the Isuzu D-MAX locally.”
Isuzu Motors South Africa has a network of 79 dealers in South Africa and 33 in Sub-Saharan Africa.