This trend, which has left vehicle makers and dealers holding large stocks of cars with large engines is likely to cause review of dealership in the African import markets.
Car dealers in Kenya say manufacturers are reducing the prices of high engine capacity cars as they seek to dispose of them due to low demand in the developed markets caused by high fuel prices and changing government policy.
The dealers say that high engine capacity cars are finding easy markets in African countries including Kenya where financial institutions have upped the sale of personal loans that has increased the capacity of the middle class to own vehicles.
They add that new car owners hardly pay attention to the efficiency of their car engines.
“Most Kenyans buy their preferred car models putting less emphasis on fuel economy and environmental safety,” says Anthony Mwaura, a car dealer at Junction Hilltop Motors on Ngong Road.
Second-hand dealers who spoke to the Business Daily pointed out that the model of a car is the main asking point of most would-be car owners in Kenya with fewer buyers checking the details of fuel capacity and the type of fuel the car uses.
The same trend was mirrored even in the new cars market in which high engine capacity of above 1800cc continued to dominate the most client choices.
Data from the Kenya Motor Industry shows that of the 1,697 personal cars bought this year, 1,267 personal cars had an engine capacity of between 1800cc and 2500cc as compared to only 430 cars, which were below 1800cc.
This means that fuel economy cars were only 33 per cent of the total new personal cars market in the first ten months of the year.
Middle income earners in developed countries have increased their uptake of low engine capacity cars making manufacturers to compete in the race towards lower engine capacity of below 1300cc.
This is happening at a time when global fuel prices have a hit record high prompting manufacturers to increase production of fuel-efficient vehicles.
“Most individual car buyers are less driven by how much fuel their cars consume as long as they can afford them,” said Abigael Akinyi, a marketing official at Toyota Kenya.
Regulators in the developed world such the European Union are also tilting the ground in favour of fuel economy cars with new policy changes giving room to electric cars and other energy saving models.