Automaker shelves Sh2b assembly bid

Japanese automaker, Nissan Motor Company has put on hold plans to set up a Sh2 billion assembling plant in Kenya citing change of strategy for its decision.

The company said it will “immediately” begin implementing a strategy to re-energise the brand presence in Africa through a focused plan that includes expanding the dealer network and product line-up in all key markets.

“The idea to set up an assembly plant in Kenya will take some time, it is something we will look at in the future, for now we want to push the brand’s visibility while staying focused on creating more enjoyable driving experiences,” said Nissan head of East Africa Max De Wit in an interview with People Daily.

In April, Nissan Group of Africa had announced it would start vehicle assembling in the country to capitalise on the growing demand for new vehicles in the region.

The proposed Sh2 billion plant is believed to be awaiting government’s approval, which would have seen the dealer set up an operational assembly line as early as 2019.

It is, however, not clear when these plans will be deliberated, and whether Nissan Kenya had submitted a proposal to the government, which it promised to do once market studies and due diligence assessments were complete.

Nissan executives are considering producing their vehicles at plants owned by Isuzu East Africa, Associated Vehicle Assemblers, owned by Simba Corp and Kenya Vehicle Manufacturers (KVM) – a venture between the Kenya government, Toyota Tsusho Corp and Al-Futtaim Group.

The dealer also quashed speculation about a boardroom rift among shareholders. “There are no wrangles and all our partners are working well,” said De Wit.

The disputes are said to have started after South Africa’s Motus Holdings, which previously traded as AMH Group, took full control of local Nissan dealership after buying out the Kenyan business tycoon Mohamed Zubedi who owned 49 per cent stake in the franchise.

Currently, the company is trading locally under the umbrella of Nissan Kenya.

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