Second hand cars being offloaded from a Cargo Ship at the Port of Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Kenyans imported an extra 13,753 second hand vehicles in the nine months to September last year shrugging off price increases of the units in source markets.
Latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that imports for used cars in the nine months to September stood at 78,304 units, 21 percent jump from 64,551 units in similar period in 2020.
The increase in the number of units shipped came despite prices increasing in the wake of the Coronavirus disruptions that led to supply hitches in the source markets, mainly Japan.
KNBS data shows that the average price of a used car rose to Sh940, 395 from Sh868, 780 and the increases were anticipated to slam brakes on orders as buyers reduced spending due to the economic hardships of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Dealers have linked the increase to overflows of the orders that were made in 2020 when Coronavirus-travel restrictions disrupted shipments and led to late arrival of the units.
“The increase of the 13,000 plus units is mainly due to overflows from 2020 to 2021. Remember the disruptions when restrictions were imposed, these led to delayed arrivals of orders made,” said Charles Munyori the secretary-general of Kenya Auto Bazaar Association, which represents used car dealers.
Shipments were for the larger part of 2020 disrupted when Ports in sources markets like Japan remained closed due to the ban on travel and social gatherings prompting delays in shipments for months.
The Asian nation had suspended operations at its Ports as it battled to contain a spike in Coronavirus infections. The closure also led to increase in shipping costs as importers raced to secure the limited spaces for their cargo.
Vehicles from Japan dominate the Kenyan second-hand car market, taking more than 80 percent of the market share.
Mazda Demio, Toyota Fielder, Toyota Rav 4, Toyota Vanguard and Nissan X-Trail are some of the popular models whose yard prices increased in the wake of the supply hitches in the source markets and increase in shipping costs.
Supply hitches, rise in shipping costs and the weakening of the shilling forced dealers to pass the increased costs to buyers in an economy that was still struggling to regain its footing in the wake of the coronavirus fallout.
The number of second-hand cars imported in the first nine months had dropped 15,506 units last year from 80,057 shipped in 2019, highlighting the adverse effect of the disruptions.
Last year’s rise in the number of second-hand car imported coincided with the ongoing recovery of businesses and workers resuming jobs.
Small businesses and households are the biggest buyers of used cars and the Coronavirus economic fallout had depressed their spending ability including purchase of the units.
The KNBS data shows that the average cost of a used car last year was the highest since 2017 highlighting the impact of the supply hitches and weakening shilling.
Used car prices in Kenya rose by up to 33 percent between March and September last year on costly imports and a weak shilling.
The shilling has taken a beating from the dollar from mid last year when it stood at Sh106.40 on the combination of weak inflows and strong dollar demand across sectors.
Kenya imports a wide variety of goods, including petroleum products, wheat, second-hand clothes, motor vehicles, vegetable oils and industrial machinery, whose costs are rising as the shilling weakens against the dollar.