Sales of new luxury cars rose marginally in the nine months ended September as the high-end brands registered mixed performance.
Data from the Kenya Motor Industry Association (KMI) shows that orders for the cars, whose prices can top the Sh30 million mark, rose to 113 units in the review period from 112 units a year earlier.
BMW had the best performance as its unit sales more than doubled to 20 from eight. The German car franchise is now held by Inchcape Kenya which acquired it from rival Simba Corporation last year.
Mercedes was second, raising its orders to 48 from 38. All the other luxury car brands registered a dip in sales, cancelling out the performance by BMW and Mercedes.
Land Rover models, also sold by Inchcape, had the biggest drop in unit sales to 20 from 34. Orders for Jaguar cars, also by Inchcape, fell to four from seven. Sales of Porsche, by Porsche Centre Nairobi, dropped to 19 from 22 while those of Bentley (by Bentley Nairobi) declined to two from three.
The new luxury car segment has outperformed the overall new vehicle market that saw unit sales shrink 24.2 per cent to 7,637 in the review period from 10,081 the year before.
Dealers have blamed the panic and its economic disruption brought, including travel restrictions for the sales slump.
Sales of commercial vehicles such as buses, trucks and pick-ups –which account for more than 80 per cent of total new vehicle sales— were hit particularly hard by the lockdowns and economic slowdown.
The luxury car market has, however, remained relatively immune to the weak economy.
The trend demonstrates that rich households and some private companies have substantial cash buffers that allow them to maintain or raise their spending even amid economic turmoil.
While the overall new vehicle market expects to close the year with lower sales, the easing of travel restrictions has seen orders recover gradually.
“The easing of inter-county travel restrictions in July has seen a gradual economic recovery driven by small and medium enterprises who have supported our business,” said Isuzu East Africa, the largest dealer with a 40 per cent market share.
“We have seen heightened economic activities, especially in the construction and agricultural sectors. While Kenyans have adopted conservative spending to meet their domestic needs, there is now a growing appetite for investments driven by emerging financing opportunities.”