JapanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s largest automaker Toyota, Tuesday launched a Sh500 million ($4.9 million) truck and bus assembly plant and showroom in Kenya in a move to steal market dominance from competitor, Ford.
Kazuhiko Wanabe, GM Hino Motors Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the of the subsidiary under which Toyota is producing the vehicles, disclosed the company plans an output of 10 buses and 30 trucks monthly which is to surge to 200 units after a few months of operation.
Already, the Changamwe plant launched with production of its first Hino truck and bus.
The Japanese auto maker projects it sells 1,200 units by 2015.
The launch of Kenya-based assembly sees Toyota take on rival General Motors East Africa which currently holds the largest share of the Kenyan new truck and bus market.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There is a huge market as about half of the Kenyan motor vehicle market is commercial, mainly made up of pick-ups, trucks and buses,Ã¢â‚¬Â Naoki Takeuchi, managing director of Toyota Kenya said according to Business Daily.
Toyota has been pushed down in terms of market ranking over the past two years, as government plans to eliminate mini-bus taxis Ã¢â‚¬â€œ known as matatus Ã¢â‚¬â€œ negatively affected sales growth for the company.
As such, in rankings for 2012, Toyota had managed to claw back 24 percent of the market in Kenya, while General Motors lead Ã¢â‚¬â€œ largely thanks to its Isuzu model trucks and buses Ã¢â‚¬â€œ with 27 percent of the market share.
ToyotaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s move to focus on the truck and bus market means direct competition for General Motors as Toyota attempts to steal the sector thus far dominated by the dominant rival.