Chinese Automaker Rolls Out Kenyan Assembled Pickup Trucks

Foton East Africa has launched pickup trucks for the Kenyan market in less than one year of operations in the country.

This now lays ground for the Chinese automaker to compete with established truck dealers in the local market who include Toyota, DT Dobie and CMC Motors, as it targets to sell over 5,000 trucks in the regional market in two years.

Foton assembles its vehicles locally through the Kenya Vehicle Manufacturers (KVM) with which it has a two-year contract. The firm plans to set up an assembly plant along Mombasa Road on a 10-acre piece of land it acquired last year.

Foton East Africa regional general manager Calvin Guo says Sh4 billion has been set aside for construction of the manufacturing plant. “About US$5 million (approx. Sh425 million) has already been spent in purchasing the piece of land and establishing approved bonded warehouses,” said Guo when the company launched the pickups on Friday.

The automaker says it will increase its vehicle production for the East African market by more than 600 units this year. The production line, expected to be operational in May 2012, will have an output capacity of 10,000 units per year and is expected to cut down on manufacturing costs of commercial vehicles.

It currently has outlets and service stations in Nairobi and Mombasa but plans to set up additional shops in Nakuru, Kisumu, Eldoret and Meru. It has already kicked off a one-month campaign to recruit dealers.

Foton also eyes the public transport sector where it hopes to start selling buses once the parent company, headquartered in Beijing, carries out a planned research on the viability of this venture for the Kenyan market.