Isuzu Motors South Africa says it has started supplying D-Max knocked-down kits for assembly purposes to its manufacturing facility in Kenya.

The Japanese firm’s local arm says it represents the “first intra-continental regional trade exchange of its kind” for Isuzu on the continent and is “aligned to its strategy” for the SA assembly plant to serve as a hub for growing its overall volumes in sub-Saharan Africa.

Interestingly, Toyota South Africa Motors takes a similar approach, recently announcing the investment of R20-million for the establishment of a packing plant to support its knock-down business of the Hilux in Kenya.

Isuzu’s East African operation previously focussed only on truck and bus assembly operations while fully importing light commercial vehicles from South Africa. According to Isuzu, the brand achieved a 44,5 percent share of the Kenyan new vehicle market in 2019.

Michael Sacke, Isuzu Motors SA CEO and managing director, said the project was put together in “record time”, adding the firm anticipated it would “result in a win-win for both South Africa and Kenya”.

“Some of the vehicle kits have already arrived in Kenya and the Kenyan team received comprehensive training in Port Elizabeth late last year in preparation for actual operations,” Sacke said.

Isuzu says volumes to Kenya have been “projected at 1 300 vehicles per year” through the knocked down programme, although it is “expected this will further increase in the medium- to long-term”.

In November 2019, Isuzu Motors of Japan confirmed it planned to invest R1,2-billion into its South African operations in order to produce the new-generation D-Max bakkie locally.