The 2005 Total Motor show is being held from September 1 to 4th at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC). It is one of the few enjoyable corporate events that are open to the public. Others include the Air Show (Wilson Airport), Safari Sevens, and Concurs motor show.
This year the entrance fee is up to 300/= shillings ($4) for adults, which is rather pricey, and 50 shillings for unaccompanied children. But the price cushioned by the fact they you get a free autonews magazine (which retails for 150 shillings) and are also entered into a raffle draw with a million shillings cash prize. I had gone there over lunch with 300 shillings in my pocket, hoping to have lunch somewhere, but the event took all my cash.
Represented were auto manufactures including Audi, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Isuzu, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Peugeot, Porsche, Skoda, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen, Volvo all with cars, trucks, buses alongside suppliers of spares and accessories.
There were many banks represented including Barclays, Diamond Trust, CFC, Southern Credit, NIC and Imperial, all offering a variety of auto loans, hire purchase, insurance finance and credit card products.
Sales teams were in front of each stand handing out brochure and enticing in everyone to leave their phone number and contacts. Whether this energy and enthusiasm will fizzle out over the four day show, we’ll see. One problem with going on the first day is that some stands are not yet staffed, or have no brochures to hand out.
Dubai vehicle importers: Major motor industry players (especially General Motors & Toyota) always lament each year about duty-free, unroadworthy, 8 year old, 3rd hand “Dubai cars” that are imported from Asia, via Dubai and represent over 70% of the vehicles sold in Kenya every year.
New cars are quiet pricey, which is why a lot of Kenyans are importing or buying “Dubai” cars, and not from local showrooms. E.g. a Chevrolet Aveo was selling at 1.4m ($19,000) while a Nissan Sunny from DT Dobie was going for 1.7 - 1.9 million. But there are people who can write checks and buy cars at the show as someone did last year with the then new Range Rover.
Most of the manufacturer’s two prices for each car; the sale price, as well as the “duty free” price to entice diplomats, donors, churches and other tax-exempt buyers. E.g. While an embassy can buy a BMW 530i for 5.5. million shillings ($73,000), a Kenyan will pay 8.9 million shillings ($119,000) for the same car – 60% more. This disparity is found in all vehicle categories.
The Kenya Revenue Authority was represented at a huge stand and with officers who provided a wealth of information about vehicle importation licensing and tax issues. But they couldn’t tell me why, if I saved enough to buy a car - using my sweat and skills, why I would have to fork over another 60% to them. They were there to collect taxes, not to ask why they collect taxes!
Here’s a sampling of some common 4X4 prices for locals:
BMW X5 9.3 million ($124,000)
Mitsubishi Pajero 4.6 m + VAT ($71,000)
Nissan Patrol 4.6 m to 5.1m ($68,000)
Toyota Prado 4.8 million ($64,000)
Toyota Land Cruiser VX 8.3m ($111,000)
Volvo had the XC90 priced in South African Rand, which was too confusing
29 seat matatu 2.8m (inclusive of registration & licence)
46 seat luxury bus (9.9 million inclusive of 1 year warranty)
62 seat bus 7.6 million
Mercedes 2628 9.1 million
Star of the Show
Still, there were many of us ogling cars we could not afford; some cars were open for visitors to sit in including a Mercedes CLS350. There were a bunch of people waiting to sit in the front, so I sat in the back, which was rather cramped and listened as a prospective customer told the salesman that he didn’t like the car, because it “resembled a CLK.” The car was locked up soon after and I hope it will be opened up over the weekend. Many of the high-end vehicles from Audi, BMW, Porsche and Land Rover were all locked up