A Japanese auto dealer has opened an office in Nairobi, stepping up competition for second-hand car importers from the Asian country.
AA Japan says the Nairobi hub is intended to serve the East African market.
Company chairman Hameed Ramzan says the Nairobi office is aimed at boosting the dealer’s sales, which have been driven by agents in the past three years.
“In 2015 we sold about 3,000 units to Kenyans, 3,750 units in 2016 and last year saw us hit the 4,800 units mark, indicating a high potential to grow our business in Kenya and across East Africa,” he said.
Second-hand Japanese cars are popular with Kenyan motorists, the majority of who prefer used cars due to their affordability. Toyota Tshusho, a subsidiary of the global carmaker Toyota, also has a presence in Nairobi to push second-hand car sales.
AA Japan has a presence in 50 countries across Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa.
It was started as a small family business in Sri Lanka before moving to Japan where its expansion gained momentum.
Mr Ramzan said the opening of the Kenyan office will address the time difference between Kenya and Japan that derails transactions, making them lose business.
“Japan is six hours ahead of Kenya and when our clients log in to buy a vehicle, they are forced to post and wait to the next day to get a reply but with this office, we shall offer a seamless service for all car dealers,” he said.
The firm is also setting up an online portal for Kenya that will have 500 vehicles daily ranging from saloon cars, pickups, double cabins and four-wheel vehicles.
“Currently, individuals and registered used vehicle resellers import vehicles directly where some have suffered immense losses when their vehicles are declared unfit for the Kenyan market,” he said.
Local General Manager for AA Japan Kenya office Hamza Almeida said it will help clients search for the required vehicles, facilitate shipment and ensure vehicles imported meet all export requirements.
“Our initial scope of operations will revolve around serving the Kenyan market but we will also accommodate customers from other countries as well,” said Mr Almeida.
He said they would conduct marketing tours to meet second-hand vehicle dealers in Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret and Nairobi.
Mr Almeida said local customers will make payments in local currency.
“We are eliminating an online hitch where goods once bought cannot be returned. Clients should have an opportunity to give us feedback on the products received,” he said.