KENYA – French Automaker Renault Trucks has opened a new plant to facilitate a local assembly of its K-Range heavy-duty trucks in Thika, Central Kenya, as it eyes the East African market.

The move follows the establishment of a long-term partnership with the local exclusive importer CMC Motors and the unveiling of their new C and K ranges in Mombasa and Nairobi.

This comes nine months after the French firm spent Sh58 million (US$58000) to upgrade the Kenya Vehicle Manufacturers plant.

The plant set to create over 200 jobs was commissioned by Industrialization Principal Secretary (PS) Francis Owino in the presence of Renault Trucks President Bruno Blin, CMC Managing Director Collin Cordry and Thika MP Patrick Wainaina.

“I urge this company to consider sourcing materials and parts for their assembly from local manufacturing entities such as the Numerical Machining Complex (NMC) and SMEs involved in the production of these parts,” said Owino.

Renault Africa President Bruno Blin said the Thika-based factory will help the company expand its presence in the Kenyan market, with plans to expand to Kisumu and Nakuru.

“This comes in line with our arrival in the region, taking Kenya as our development Hub to achieve our long-term vision, alongside CMC Motors, our exclusive partner in the country,” added Blin during the launch of the million-shilling plant.

The presence of the firm in Kenya has now raised competition in Kenya’s truck industry that has so far been dominated by Isuzu East Africa, Simba Corp, and DT Dobie.

It targets to have assembled 150 trucks for the local market by the end of 2022 with the aim of further expanding its footprint in the East and southern Africa region.

The automaker also anticipates assembling other models in the coming years depending on the market’s response to the 6 by 4 trucks.

Growth in the construction, mining and trade industries has increased demand for heavy commercial vehicles, which are often purchased brand new from official dealerships unlike most passenger cars in Kenya.

The French company signed an agreement in December 2018, with CMC Motors to use the dealer’s distribution network comprising eight branches across Kenya and a central warehouse in Nairobi.

Renault has four other hubs in Ghana, Morocco, Cameroon, and Tunisia tasked with distributing its trucks and conducting after-sales services across the continent.