Kenya is a middle-income economy where owning a car becomes a necessity when you start working. In the 70s and 80s, owning a car was a preserve for the rich class. However, this notion is quickly changing with the emergence of the smaller and fuel-efficient budget-friendly car.
Kenya has been experiencing steady economic growth in recent years, and this has led to an increase in disposable income among young people. Many millennials now have the financial means to purchase a car, and they are doing so in large numbers.
Moving from point A to point B, especially when you have children or luggage can be quite hectic if you are using public transport. On the other hand, it is not everyone who can afford using taxis.
However, a rising cost of living, a weakening shilling, and high fuel costs mean that it is not every Kenyan who can afford to own a car. Kenya also has very many poor roads and massive traffic jams.
With the above issues forming part of daily life, finding the perfect car for basic movement becomes a strategic decision. Navigating through these challenges requires a vehicle that not only fits the budget but also tackles the unique conditions of Kenyan roads.
So how do you decide the best budget-friendly car for yourself?
In the midst of economic uncertainties and rising living costs, the choice of a car in Kenya goes beyond personal preferences. One needs a careful consideration of fuel efficiency, durability, and affordability.
If you are looking for a utility car, then aesthetics and modifications are not your primary concern.
This article aims to guide you through the maze of options, focusing on the best and budget-friendly cars available in Kenya.
Current Automotive Landscape in Kenya
Kenya’s automotive landscape is evolving, shaped by factors like high fuel prices and an increased cost of living. With fuel costs taking a toll on the household budget, the need for cars that offer optimal mileage becomes paramount.
A recent EPRA review on 15th January 2024 saw the fuel prices drop marginally to Ksh.207.36 per litre for super petrol and Ksh.196.47 per litre for diesel. This is however on the higher side compared to neighbouring countries.
To put it into context, one would need to spend Ksh 14,515.20 to fill a 70-litre fuel tank for a mid-sized standard car.
On the other hand, a budget-friendly car like the Toyota Vitz with a 32-litre fuel tank will require Ksh 6,635.52 to fill the tank.
Navigating Poor Kenyan Roads
Another factor to consider is the state of the transport network in Kenya. Kenyan roads present a unique set of challenges, and the durability of a vehicle is often a deciding factor for car buyers.
Poor road conditions can significantly impact maintenance costs, making it essential to choose a car that can withstand the rigors of diverse terrains.
The durability of a car is also important if, at one point, you consider disposing off the car by selling it. A well-maintained car will of course attract a higher resale value.
Traffic Jams: A Daily Struggle
For many Kenyans, traffic jams are an unavoidable part of their daily routine, especially in major towns. A 2021 report by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA Kenya) noted that the average time spent in traffic in Kenya was 56.94 minutes.
Not only do traffic jams cause pollution but they also cause loss of revenue, estimated at Ksh 60 Billion a day in Nairobi. Traffic jams also lead to reduced productivity due to hours wasted in traffic.
In such conditions, a fuel-efficient car that excels in stop-and-go traffic becomes a necessity, ensuring that you don’t spend an exorbitant amount on fuel while stuck in jams.
The Appeal of Used Cars from Asian Markets
When it comes to budget-friendly options, used cars from Asian markets shine as attractive choices. Compared to their UK or USA counterparts, these cars are often more affordable and readily available in Kenya, catering to the needs of budget-conscious buyers.
So why do people opt for used cars and not brand-new showroom cars?
Well, it is not people struggling with the basics of life that are taking up second-hand cars. It is salaried employees struggling with bills and fortunate enough to remain with some extra cash after ensuring there is enough food for their families, rent is paid, fees is wired to the children’s school accounts, and all the family members have clothes to keep warm.
Top Picks for Budget-Friendly Cars
A quick spot-check on Kenyan roads shows that there are a few common models that appear everywhere in big cities like Nairobi, Mombasa, or Nakuru. These include:
- Honda Fit
- Toyota Vitz
- Nissan March
- Mazda Demio
- Toyota Auris
- Honda Civic
- Volkswagen Golf
- Nissan Tiida
- Subaru Impreza
- Honda Stream
- Volkswagen Polo
- Suzuki Swift
- Nissan Note
- Toyota Sienta
- Toyota Ractis
Take time before choosing your best budget-friendly car
As we wrap up this exploration of the best and budget-friendly cars in Kenya, it’s clear that making the right choice involves more than just brand preferences.
In a country hit by high fuel prices, poor roads, and traffic jams, finding a car for yourself will not be a hard consideration. However, you need to take time and understand the unique challenges you face in moving around, and how the car will sort such challenges.
- Are budget-friendly cars in Kenya reliable in the long run?
- Answer: Yes, many budget-friendly cars offer reliability and durability, especially when properly maintained.
- How can I ensure a good deal when negotiating for a budget-friendly car?
- Answer: Research the market, know the fair price, and be prepared to walk away if the deal doesn’t meet your criteria.
- Are used cars from Asian markets easy to find in Kenya?
- Answer: Yes, the Kenyan market has a variety of used cars from Asian markets, providing ample choices for buyers.
- Do budget-friendly cars compromise on safety features?
- Answer: Not necessarily. Many budget-friendly cars come equipped with essential safety features, but it’s essential to check and compare.
- What are the future trends in the Kenyan automotive market?
- Answer: The market is expected to see increased availability of budget-friendly electric and hybrid vehicles in the coming years.