NAIROBI – Rising demand for commercial vehicles and luxury cars pushed new and used motor-vehicle registrations in Kenya to nearly 100,000 units last year, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

Reporting in the agency’s 2015 economic survey, director general Zachary Mwangi notes the 102,606 newly registered motor vehicles in the country in 2014 was up about 9.0% from 94,017 units in 2013. Both totals include trailers.

“Specifically, the number of commercial panel vans and pickups increased by 28%, from 9,819 units in 2013 to 12,568 units in 2014,” Mwangi says.

Sales of new heavy trucks rose 11.6%, from 9,570 units in 2013 to 10,681 in 2014.

Mwangi tells WardsAuto he expects new-vehicle registrations to set another record this year as a result of robust construction, energy-sector development and continued growth in tourism, despite Kenya’s engagement in a counterterrorism war in neighboring Somalia.

“Improved governance and a sustained strong internal demand for services are likely to favor demand for not just commercial vehicles but also cars,” Mwangi says.

The Kenya Motor Industry Assn. also indicates more new vehicles likely will be sold in the country this year, although they accounted for fewer than one in six registrations last year.

New-vehicle dealers sold a record 17,499 units in 2014, a figure that has increased despite the government’s removal of restrictions on imports of used cars in the early 1990s.

Many of those new vehicles were sold by Toyota Kenya, Cooper Motor, Simba Colt and DT Dobie, which are the leading dealerships in East Africa.

The dealers today face fierce competition from Kenyan assemblers of pickups and heavy-commercial vehicles, including General Motors East Africa Ltd, Kenya Vehicle Manufacturer (which makes Nissan, Mazda, Land Rover, Mercedes, Iveco and various buses under license) and the Association of Vehicle Assemblers, which builds Nissan Urvans and Land Rover 110 models, in addition to bus bodies, custom-design trailers, fire trucks and ambulances.

General Motors has an assembly plant in Nairobi that assembles heavy-commercial vehicles for sale within Kenya as well as for export to Burundi, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.