Lionel Terblanche of Isuzu Motors SA shows the knocked down kits which are ready to be shipped. Picture: SUPPLIED
Lionel Terblanche of Isuzu Motors SA shows the knocked down kits which are ready to be shipped. Picture: SUPPLIED

Isuzu Motors SA in Port Elizabeth has started supplying knocked down (KD) Isuzu D-Max bakkie kits for assembly to its Isuzu manufacturing facility in Kenya.

This represents the first intra-continental regional trade exchange of its kind for Isuzu 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 focused only on truck and bus assembly operations while fully importing light commercial vehicles from SA.

Isuzu is a leading brand in the East African markets, with a 44.5%  share of the Kenyan new vehicle market in 2019.

"We have put this project together in record time and anticipate that it will result in a win-win for both SA and Kenya,” says Isuzu Motors SA CEO and MD Michael Sacke.

“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," said Sacke.

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 per year to Kenya through this KD programme, it is expected that this will further 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 (semi knocked down) initiatives as well as various initiatives to strengthen our dealer distribution network," emphasised Sacke.

Rita Kavashe, MD 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 SA has a network of 79 dealers in SA and 33 in sub-Saharan Africa.