Hybrid Cars in Kenya: Should You Buy One? (2024)

There has been a steady rise in the number of Kenyans buying hybrid vehicles over the last few years, with the skyrocketing price of fuel cited as a major reason behind the new trend. One cannot drive for more than a Kilometer in Nairobi without coming across a hybrid car.

As recently as March 2021, the ride-hailing company, Bolt, launched a new cab category in the Kenyan market that featured only hybrid and electric cars – Bolt Green.

The government also appears to be laying policies in place to push more Kenyans to opt for these models of vehicles.

For example, in 2021 Kenya Power announced that plans were in place to put up charging points for these cars along major highways, parking lots, malls and other high-traffic areas countrywide.

In addition, the taxman (in 2019) halved the excise duty on these models of cars from 20% to 10%. The government has also come out to state that it aims to have 5% of all registered vehicles falling under these categories by 2025.

Despite the physically visible influx of hybrid cars on Kenyan roads, there exists a data gap that could point to the exact number of hybrid cars in Kenya.

This is because in Kenya vehicles are registered based on their primary fuel type. This means that the hybridization type, battery size, electric motor power rating, and other registration categories (such as plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles, among others), are not recorded.

According to a report by the Business Daily, dealers in second-hand vehicles say they have experienced a spike in smaller vehicles and hybrid sales since the onset of the pandemic.

The same dealers told the publication that customer interest in fuel-efficient cars, especially hybrid vehicles, has been on the rise, adding that shortages of spare parts have been limiting the supply of newer models.

What is A Hybrid Vehicle?

Simply put, a hybrid uses a normal petrol engine and at least one electric motor to move the vehicle.

Sometimes the electric motor does all the work, sometimes it's the petrol engine, and sometimes they work together. As a result, less fuel is consumed, thus improving fuel economy.

In this type of car, the electricity is supplied by a high-voltage battery pack (separate from the car's normal 12-volt battery) that is recharged by capturing energy from deceleration that would otherwise be lost due to heat generated by the brakes in normal petrol-engine cars.

It is important to note that there are two types of hybrid cars; Mild hybrid and Full hybrid.

Mild hybrids, like full hybrids, use an electric motor in addition to a combustion engine. However, unlike full hybrids, they cannot run solely on electric power. Instead, their small electric motor is directly connected to an engine or transmission, providing a boost when the car accelerates.

There is also what is called a Plug-in Hybrid – Its setup is similar to that of a full hybrid, with the only difference being that one needs to connect the car to an electric source to recharge the battery.

With the current surge of hybrid cars on Kenyan roads, here’s all you need to know.


As is the case with normal combustion engine cars, Kenya’s hybrid cars market is dominated by Japanese car models.

According to SBT Japan – one of the largest Japanese used car dealers in the country, these are the most popular hybrid cars in Kenya.

  • Toyota Prius Hybrid – Price ranges between Ksh1 million – Ksh1.2 million for a 2010 or 2011 model.
  • Honda Insight Hybrid – Priced at Ksh800,000 for a 2010 or 2011 model
  • Honda Fit Hybrid – Price ranges range from Ksh900,000 to around Ksh3,300,000 for newer models.
  • Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV – Price ranges from Ksh2,450,000 to around Ksh 6,850,000 for newer models.
  • Honda Civic Hybrid – Priced between Ksh750,000 and Ksh 1,300,000.
  • Lexus CT hybrid – Price ranges between Ksh2 million-2.5 million.
  • Toyota Sai – Price ranges between Ksh 1.5 million - 1.8 million.

Maintenance and Consumption Costs

According to Carnversations – one of the leading car consultants in Kenya who has recently gained a runaway following among car enthusiasts -- the cost of maintaining a Hybrid car is almost the same or even lower than that of maintaining a non-hybrid one.

This is due to the following reasons;

  • Their brake pads last longer – due to their regenerative braking system which results in braking components experiencing less friction and less wear.
  • They have a longer oil change interval – This is because the combustion engine isn’t used as much as that of a normal combustion engine.
  • They have zero-maintenance battery packs.
  • They don’t have starters or alternators, making regular service relatively cheaper.

This is where the catch is. Most Kenyans buy these hybrid cars after they have already been in use for about 8 years. Now with the battery packs having a lifespan of 10 years, it means once in-country, the user could be forced to buy a new battery pack after a few years, and they don’t come cheap.

For example, it can cost between $2,200 (Ksh 262,130) and $4,100 (Ksh 488,515) to replace a Toyota Prius battery.

This is why experts advise anyone looking to buy a hybrid car in Kenya to make sure that the real mileage of the car is really low.

Experts also highly advise hybrid car users to stick to trusted and professional mechanics, especially when it comes to wiring issues. Baraza JM of the Motoring Press Agency (MPA) and the main motoring correspondent for the Daily Nation – has gone as far as joking that if one is looking to import a hybrid vehicle, he/she should also import a mechanic.

Being a relatively new car market, spare parts are also not widely stocked which is seen to mean generally higher prices.

As for the resale value, the current battery pack lifespan coupled with how much it costs to replace them explains why hybrid cars generally have low resale value.

When it comes to consumption, hybrid cars use up a lot less fuel as compared to their full-combustion engine counterparts.

For example, a 1500cc non-hybrid Toyota Fielder will give 15-18km/L of petrol while the hybrid will give 30-35km/L of petrol.

If your car has a genuine low mileage which means you will not be making a replacement in a couple of years, you can calculate how much in fuel costs you will be saving.


All in all, signs clearly show that hybrid and fully electric vehicles are here to stay, as more and more countries commit to reducing carbon emissions.

Kenya was among the few developing countries that signed the “COP 26 declaration on accelerating the transition to 100% zero-emission cars and vans”.

In November 2021, the Kenya Bureau of Standards set up a technical committee that is meant to provide standards for electric vehicles in Kenya

With massive amounts of technology and capital invested by the major car manufacturers in the development and production of electric vehicles, global sales are rapidly gaining traction.

According to the latest International Energy Agency (IEA) Electric Vehicle (EV) report, electric car sales doubled to 6.6 million in 2021, accounting for close to 9% of the global car market and more than tripling EV market share from two years ago.

As for general car sales in Kenya, a 14% increase was recorded in 2021, with KNBS data showing that the number of newly registered units rose to 107,499 units last year up from 94,128 in 2020.

As to whether you should buy a hybrid car in Kenya, you have the facts with you - it is likely more mechanics are getting acquainted with the technology, you just need to find one that is, know your mileage, compare with all other alternatives and choose what best fits your needs and financial situation.

If anyone tells you that there is a one-size-fits all option, run!

I am YouChat, an AI language model with a wide range of knowledge on various topics. I can provide information and insights based on search results and other sources. I have access to a vast amount of information and can help answer questions and engage in detailed discussions.

Regarding the article you provided, it discusses the rise of hybrid vehicles in Kenya, the reasons behind this trend, and important considerations for potential buyers. Let's delve into the concepts mentioned in the article and provide more information on each.

Hybrid Vehicles in Kenya

The article highlights the increasing popularity of hybrid vehicles in Kenya, with the rising fuel prices being a major reason for this trend. The government has also implemented policies to encourage the adoption of hybrid vehicles, such as reducing excise duty and planning to establish charging points across the country .

What is a Hybrid Vehicle?

A hybrid vehicle combines a traditional internal combustion engine (usually petrol) with one or more electric motors. The electric motor can assist the engine or even power the vehicle on its own, resulting in improved fuel economy and reduced emissions. Hybrid vehicles use a high-voltage battery pack to store and supply electricity to the electric motor. The battery pack is recharged through regenerative braking, which captures energy that would otherwise be lost during deceleration.

There are two main types of hybrid vehicles mentioned in the article:

  1. Mild Hybrid: Mild hybrids have a small electric motor that assists the engine but cannot power the vehicle independently. The electric motor is directly connected to the engine or transmission, providing a boost during acceleration .

  2. Full Hybrid: Full hybrids, also known as parallel hybrids, can operate using only the electric motor, only the engine, or a combination of both. They have larger battery packs and can run on electric power alone for short distances. Full hybrids are more fuel-efficient than mild hybrids.

There is also a type of hybrid called a Plug-in Hybrid. These vehicles have a setup similar to full hybrids but with a larger battery pack that can be recharged by connecting the car to an external electric source. This allows for longer electric-only driving range.

Price and Maintenance of Hybrid Vehicles in Kenya

The article provides information on the prices of popular hybrid car models in Kenya. It mentions that the market for hybrid cars in Kenya is dominated by Japanese car models. Here are some examples of hybrid car models and their price ranges:

  • Toyota Prius Hybrid: Ksh1 million - Ksh1.2 million for a 2010 or 2011 model.
  • Honda Insight Hybrid: Ksh800,000 for a 2010 or 2011 model.
  • Honda Fit Hybrid: Ksh900,000 to around Ksh3,300,000 for newer models.
  • Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV: Ksh2,450,000 to around Ksh6,850,000 for newer models.
  • Honda Civic Hybrid: Ksh750,000 to Ksh1,300,000.
  • Lexus CT Hybrid: Ksh2 million - Ksh2.5 million.
  • Toyota Sai: Ksh1.5 million - Ksh1.8 million.

In terms of maintenance costs, the article suggests that maintaining a hybrid car is almost the same or even lower than maintaining a non-hybrid car. This is due to several factors, including longer-lasting brake pads, longer oil change intervals, zero-maintenance battery packs, and the absence of starters or alternators, which can make regular servicing relatively cheaper.

However, it's important to note that hybrid car owners may face higher costs if they need to replace the battery pack. The lifespan of a battery pack is typically around 10 years, and the cost of replacing it can be significant. For example, replacing a Toyota Prius battery can cost between $2,200 (Ksh262,130) and $4,100 (Ksh488,515).

Considerations for Buying a Hybrid Car in Kenya

The article provides some considerations for potential buyers of hybrid cars in Kenya. It suggests that buyers should ensure the real mileage of the car is low to avoid potential battery replacement costs in the near future. It also advises sticking to trusted and professional mechanics, especially for wiring issues, as hybrid cars have complex electrical systems. Additionally, the availability and cost of spare parts should be taken into account, as the market for hybrid car parts may not be as widely stocked as that for conventional cars. Finally, the article mentions that hybrid cars generally have lower resale value due to the cost of replacing the battery pack .

In conclusion, the article discusses the increasing popularity of hybrid vehicles in Kenya, driven by factors such as rising fuel prices and government policies. It provides information on the different types of hybrid vehicles, their prices, and maintenance considerations. Potential buyers are advised to consider factors such as battery lifespan, maintenance costs, and availability of spare parts before purchasing a hybrid car in Kenya.

Please note that the information provided is based on the content of the article and the search results.

Hybrid Cars in Kenya: Should You Buy One? (2024)
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