Competition for Kenya’s Public Service Vehicle Segment is set to increase with Toyota Kenya, set to introduce a new 16 seater Luxury shuttle under its Toyota Hiace Brand. The vehicle which has been specifically designed for the Long Distance segment of the matatu industry will come in two options; 14 seater and 16 seater shuttle.
The Hiace ‘New Shark’ is about half a meter longer than the Toyota Hiace which is imported into the country as a used vehicle and is the current vehicle of choice for long distance matatu operators. The vehicle comes equipped with the latest fuel efficiency and fleet management systems enabling vehicle owners to not only save on fuel but also monitor the vehicle’s fuel consumption.
Toyota Kenya Deputy Managing Director Arvinder Reel says that the new vehicle will not only increase the profits of operators but also offer a more convenient and luxurious modes of travel for long distance travellers.
“Most long distance travellers prefer shuttles because they have a shorter waiting time and are faster compared to buses that often have longer travel times and take longer to fill up at bus stations. Despite this preference, most matatu owners have to increase travel frequencies to break even especially during low travel seasons escalating costs as they need more drivers. The Hiace New Shark will increase passenger capacity by adding three additional seats making the business more efficient and profitable at fewer travel frequencies. The number of frequencies ultimately impacts on the wear and tear of the vehicle’ Mr. Reel said.
Expanding to PSV
Through its Hino Kenya Heavy Commercial Division, Kenya Toyota has been looking to expand its market share in the PSV segment through the introduction of locally assembled buses and Lorries at its Mombasa based Complete Knock-Down Unit. Toyota Kenya General Manager Sales & Marketing Takeyuki Kowada says that Kenya is one of the most dynamic markets on the continent with great up take of diversified products across all motoring segments a factor that will see Toyota expand production of locally assembled vehicles to other segments.
“Though the Hiace New Shark Model is currently imported from other markets, the seat fittings and interior is done locally, in the long run we intend to locally assemble the Hiace New Shark Model. When this happens we will create more job opportunities locally both directly under Toyota Kenya and through vehicle accessory suppliers’ Mr. Reel said.
The Hiace New shark will be priced very competitively and will also have hire purchase and other financing options with Toyota Kenya having already partnered with local banks and Matatu Saccos to offer alternative financing models for the vehicle.
“One of the most interesting trends on the Kenyan market is that vehicle buyers (both commercial and individual) tend to consider the resale value of the vehicle as one of the top considerations in determining their purchase. The New Shark is competitively priced and will offer a higher resale value for investors, when local assembly begins we hope to make the price even more competitive enabling operators to own a younger more efficient fleet of vehicles.” Mr. Reel added.