Japanese auto-export company, Be Forward recently made a grand entrance to the Kenya market. Takahiro Ono, Be Forward sales manager for Africa, Oceania, and Caribbean markets said that the increasing demand for import vehicles attracted the company.

Mr. Takahiro noted that the demand was pushed by transport in manufacturing, construction, mining, tourism, retail, energy, and agri-business sectors. Additionally, the government, especially security and law enforcement authorities were highly potential customers for new imported vehicles.

The re-launch by Be Forward is despite the recent increase in import duties on selected cars by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). This move has seen huge increase in prices of new vehicles such as the Lexus R450. This car has attracted an import duty of KSh1.2 million, leading to a price increase from KSh6.9 million to KSh11.5 million. The government is also planning to reduce imported vehicle age limit to five years from the current eight years. This is aimed to promote the local industry of vehicle assembly.

Mr. Takahiro said that Be Forward was well equipped in cushioning their consumers against the unpredictable market dynamics. Free warranty for their vehicle customers is part of their package. Takahiro also said that the company prides itself on transparency whereby they display prices and features of their vehicles to the public to allow them to make informed decisions.

He said that the company would train and build capacity with potential partners in Kenya as part of their objective to expand their business. Currently, Be Forward exports and sells second-hand cars and auto parts to over 152 countries worldwide. These activities are usually carried out on their public website.

The launch by Be Forward in the country might cushion local vehicle importers against the new tax index set by the KRA. Organizations such as Car Importers Association of Kenya (CIAK) have decried the new taxes requesting for their suspension to allow consultations with different stakeholders.