German automotive manufacturer, Daimler is targeting commercial vehicle market with its Kenyan-built bus models. The company known for vehicle models, Mercedes-Benz, will stick with DT Dobie as its distribution partner to help drive that growth, joining a long list of vehicle manufacturers that have announced plans to set up locally.
Others are Volkswagen (VW), Peugeot, Iveco and most recently truck manufacturer, Volvo. DT Dobie Kenya is also the authorised seller for Volkswagen, Jeep and Hyundai Light trucks, among others.
Speaking in Nairobi, DT Dobie managing director, Ian Middleton, said the vehicle manufacturer has already assembled 10 Mercedes-Benz bus models with a target of up to 150 units by year end – which will represent 10% market share of the vehicle segment.
Daimler will work in partnership with Thika-based vehicle assembler, Kenya Vehicle Manufacturers (KVM), bus and coach body building companies, Master, LSHS and Banbros – marking a departure from where majority of buses on Kenyan roads are built on truck chassis.
“The new buses use purpose built bus chassis from India and Brazil, countries with similar road conditions as East African roads,” said Ulrich Bastert, Head of Marketing, Sales and Customer services for Daimler buses.
Headquartered in Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, the auto firm will rival Isuzu and Scania brands to meet the growing population’s demand for public transportation, whose current deficit is estimated at 2 500 new buses yearly.
Figures from Kenya Motor Industry Association (KMI) put Isuzu ahead in terms of both units sold and market share, with a 90.3% market for medium buses and 50% for large buses market and a combined 558 units sold as of May for the two segments.
The investment will include the assembling of 37-seater commuter buses whose asking price is Sh3.8 million and 60-seater passenger bus for long distance travel capped at Sh9.99 million for its initial retail price.
The franchise comes barely two months after Volvo cut links with Portuguese car dealer, Auto-Sueco. The Sweden-based truck manufacturer picked NECST Motors East Africa as its distributor and seller of Volvo brands in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania with the dealership expected to raise Volvo’s regional market share, largely dominated by Isuzu and Toyota’s Hino brands.
Volvo is targeting East African growth with its planned Sh2.5 billion assembly plant in Mombasa which could see its first locally assembled truck hit Kenyan roads as early as the first quarter of 2018.
Daimler has already opened a regional office in Nairobi which will be responsible for expanding footprint across Sub-Saharan Africa.