Exploring the growing popularity of newer car models in the Kenyan Auto scene

By Byron Omondi (byronomondi623@gmail.com)

Whether you’ve been keen or not in equal measure, it hasn’t been hard to notice the rise of newer and diverse car brands and models on Kenyan roads. Kenyan motorists have adopted newer brands over the last few months & years. Newer because these are brands that have traditionally not been popular on Kenyan roads. The rock-hard question is why now

For starters, the average young Kenyan first time car buyer is almost certainly not interested in budget cars that can be fixed at the next petrol station in case of a mechanical breakdown, or one that has no screens popping in & out of the dash. To explain this, they are driven by a very strong urge to make statements on the road- and for Instagram.

Times are changing fast & those who cannot embrace the concorde esque speed that new tech in the motoring industry is moving at will only blame themselves. The traditional brands that have dominated the scenes are simply not embracing new tech across their entire lineups in favor of maintaining the “budget identity” and hence losing out.

 A few years ago, a Toyota Auris made a decent first car option. However, with flashier models like AUDI’s coming in, the young generation will easily pick the sleek Audi A3 which is a far cry from the “dad and mum cars” of old with better cabin aesthetics and in-cabin tech.

Another reason for this change can be attributed to the sudden rise of better Mechanical Services in the local scenes. Unlike their parents who might still be trying to fully understand their expensive tablets, the young person today will open their laptop, head straight to YouTube or online car feeds & try to find out what that light on the dash or creaking sound beneath the car could be.

This has also seen the sudden rise of Garages that handle the high end & newer brands that have been coming into the market. The old-day father was more scared of where they would take a new brand for an air filter change than their son who’ll probably do it right in front of his father’s doorstep. It’s the adventurous nature of the new generation that is playing a big part in this. They want to keep learning & finding ways around things & this is one way to survive the current times.

Thirdly, these new models present themselves as more exciting cars built to improve driving experiences & there are no gifts for guessing just how much today’s young driver will fork out to achieve road-related thrill. The days when cars were meant for accessing point B & back are gone. This generation is more leaned towards getting to point B in half the time Dad & Mum cars do as well as taking on whoever dares to challenge them out there.

Newer car brands & models are more tailored to achieve this kind of thrill & as such, they have become popular among the young generation. These brands have presented better tuning platforms & performance upgrades that are highly sought after. It’s no longer cool to do Nairobi-Mombasa in 7 hours! If you can do it in 4-5 hours, you stand a chance of getting overnight fame on Instagram & this is exactly what this generation is engineered for.

We’ve also seen the overnight rise of new multi-millionaires with questionable sources of wealth. These are people who conduct Tiktok Live videos on Monday mornings then hit high-end joints at night- throughout the week…& months…& years. It’s no longer a new thing to spot an AUDI RSQ8 or a W12-powered Bentley Bentayga on our roads.

This is not to put anyone on a table for a lifestyle audit but driving a car worth 40-50 Million shillings with a 6.0L twin-turbo W12 motor at a time when a litre of Petrol costs an arm puts you on the spotlight. Anyone with the kind of money these new millionaires flash online would most certainly not want to be seen in a car that gets spotted every 15 seconds. This would be detrimental to the image they portray online.

Should you embrace the new models? The answer would be a straight Yes. Newer cars and models not only come with new tech that makes your daily commutes better but are also safer means of transport. Manufacturers are currently locked in never-ending battles to make sure that their next products will make you avoid hitting the cyclist & pedestrian that your Dad-car would certainly hit if it veered off the road. They also alert you of the looming danger in the blindspots around you. Anyone buying a car at this age certainly wants a car that would keep them safe in the unfortunate event that things go south.

Other than safety, modern cars are not leaving anything to chance when it comes to your comfort. If you value good music, they will go all out to minimize your chances of putting that big wooden speaker in your boot space by outsourcing speakers & subwoofers from the best companies available, if you want plenty of light in your cabin, a sliding panoramic sunroof is like a basic need these days & cold or hot seasons no longer have to affect your days with cooled, heated & massaging seats at your disposal. Cars have become better with time & if you’re willing to go deeper into your savings, you stand a chance of getting a new mobile home.

Byron is the Head of Imports at Kai & Karo

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