Pakistan’s automobile industry is still in its infancy. The market is dominated by only three players, the Big-3, for over 25 years, each operating in oligopolized manner while safeguarding each others’ interests, offering products that never rival each other in terms of segment or price.
Related: The Oligopoly Redefined..
Cars sold in Pakistan are alleged to lag far behind the world in terms of technology, quality, equipment and safety standards. This is coupled with months-long deliveries accompanied by the menace of own/ premium.
In other parts of the world, when an automaker intends to launch a new car, it has to pass certain criteria/ tests in order to become eligible to be sold in that country. This includes the mandatory safety equipment, emission standards as well as the age of the product itself.
In Pakistan however, automakers enjoy the liberty to sell whatever they want even when they lack safety equipment & fail to comply with international standards. Unfortunately cars produced in Pakistan in more than 25 years are yet to meet export standards. There are several examples when cars introduced in our country were already done with their life in international markets, means they were launched here after getting discontinued elsewhere.
The Auto Policy 2016-21 has opened up doors for competition as new players are in process of making an entry in the market. Renault, Datsun/ Nissan, Hyundai and Kia along with a few Chinese companies will be developing their assembling facilities here. However the government needs to ensure a proper check & balance and formulate a thorough policy as to what should be offered in Pakistan. This should include to:
- Promote Eco-friendly cars in the country & implementing modern emission standards
- Ensure availability of better quality fuel in the country
- Regulatory framework for Road Transport/ Highways
- Governing the safety equipment provided in the vehicles/ mandatory crash testing
- Implementation of vehicle recalls
There was a clause proposed in the auto policy that no automaker should be allowed to sell a particular model for more than 10 years, however it was reportedly eliminated by a strong pressure from Pak Suzuki as more than half of their product lineup was affected by this clause.
Related: The Best Facelifts in Pakistan
Around the world, automakers generally develop a passenger car for a period of 6 years. After 3 years they introduce a mid-life refresh, often termed as facelift to keep the model fresh for another few years before the new model replaces it.
A facelift retains the basic styling and platform of the car, with aesthetic alterations, like changes to the front fascia (grille, headlights), taillights, bumpers, instrument panel and center console, and various body or interior trim accessories. In addition, mechanical changes may include engine, suspension or transmission upgrades.
On the other hand, automakers in Pakistan can stretch the production period of any vehicle for as long as they want. For the knowledge of our readers, we have compiled a list of vehicles sold in Pakistan according to their lengthened production span in our country.
Suzuki Ravi/ Bolan
Global lifespan: 1979-1985
In Pakistan: 1979-present
The Suzuki Bolan that we see is the oldest car currently in production in Pakistan, thanks to Pak Suzuki. It’s actually the seventh generation of Suzuki Carry ST-90 model that was produced internationally between 1979 and 1985. By 1985 it was replaced by the eight generation DA-71 Carry, however in Pakistan Pak Suzuki still assembles the ST-90 Carry aka Bolan, which in 2018 has completed 39 years, and has entered 40th year of its production in our country. The Pak Suzuki Ravi is the pickup version of the same ST90 Carry.
Related: Just How Old The Suzuki Bolan Is..
During all these years, these vehicles are yet to receive any improvement and remain the same as they were in the 1970s. So before you go out to buy one, be sure to know it’s a 40-year old, say forty-years-old vehicle that you are paying more than 700,000 for!
Global lifespan: 1984-1988
In Pakistan: 1989-present
The Suzuki Mehran that we have here is the second generation of Alto which was produced between 1984 and 1988. It was however introduced in Pakistan in 1989 as a replacement of the first generation Alto (the Suzuki FX) and continues to be sold even today. The 2nd generation Alto (Mehran) is nearing its 30 years of production span in Pakistan and is available for PKR 7.09 lac for the base VX version and PKR 8.09 lac for the VXR CNG version.
Global lifespan: 1988-1996
In Pakistan: 2000-2017
The Suzuki Cultus was launched in year 2000 and continued to sell for 17 years without any significant improvement apart from a fuel injected engine in 2007. Funnily enough the Cultus is a hatchback version of the already discontinued Margalla sedan which Pak Suzuki used to sell between 1991 & 1998. The Cultus was replaced by the Celerio hatchback in 2017. However Pak Suzuki, in order to cash the successful Cultus nameplate, is selling the Celerio hatchback with this name in Pakistan.
Global lifespan: 1998-2004
In Pakistan: 2000-2012
Alto’s lifespan was from 2000 to 2012. Pak Suzuki eventually had to discontinue the Alto when Euro II emission standard was imposed by our government and Japan denied providing any further support since this model of Alto was long discontinued in Japan. Importing parts from India was not possible due to trade restrictions hence Pak Suzuki had no option but to discontinue the Alto after nearly 12 years of its production period. Apart from headlights & tail lights, the Alto available in a single trim remained unchanged throughout this period.
Global lifespan: 1994-1998
In Pakistan: 2000-2012
Another car of our market with over a decade long production run. Daihatsu Cuore was launched in year 2000 by Indus Motors and continued towards 2012. Initially people thought the Cuore would compete with Suzuki Mehran but Indus priced it well above the Mehran and Daihatsu Cuore despite being ridiculously expensive, remained quite a handsome seller. At one time the delivery period was above 11 months while people were happy to pay a 100 thousand rupees OWN money to get instant deliveries.
Although the car itself was decent, and was the only small car available with auto transmission, it remained quite an expensive option considering the value for money. Cuore was another car which couldn’t keep up with the emission regulations and was discontinued after an unchanged 12 year production period.
Honda City 5th gen
Global lifespan: 2007-2013
In Pakistan: 2009-present
Launched globally in 2007 and got replaced with the newer 6th generation City in 2013, the local production of the 5th gen Honda City started in year 2009. On 31st January 2018, the 5th generation Honda City has completed 9 years of its life in Pakistan and has officially entered its 10th year of production, the longest for any Honda model in the country. Honda Atlas introduced this generation back on 31st January 2009 replacing the 4th generation Honda City iDSI.
Global lifespan: 2004-2010
In Pakistan: 2010-present
The current Swift offered in our market was launched globally back in 2004 and was replaced by a newer generation model in 2010. That was when Pak Suzuki decided to launch the 2004 (2nd gen) here and since 2010 it continues to sell without any change and some hopeless sales figures.
Internationally, the Swift is currently in its 4th generation that was introduced back in December 2016. However already nearing 9 years of an unchanged production run, there is no hope for a newer Suzuki Swift for the Pakistani market.
Global lifespan: 2001-2005
In Pakistan: 2005-2014
Liana was another example when a car was launched in Pakistan after it had completed its life in global markets. Launched in 2005 the Liana was a success initially but went down the drain so badly that it hardly managed to sell 160 units per year towards the end of its production period. Apart from some cosmetic changes the car remained unchanged throughout its 9 years of production life and was ultimately discontinued in 2014.
Related: Pak Suzuki And The Sedan Segment
It remains possibly the only locally produced car with such a negative impression among car buyers. Interestingly, Liana in its last 8 years of production (2007-2014) sold 6,127 units (averaging just 765 units a year) while it sold 6,067 units in 2006-07 alone.
Global lifespan: 1983-1988
In Pakistan: 1991-2000
Launched in our market in 1988 as Suzuki Swift, the local production of this Swift started in 1991 and was labeled as Khyber. It was the only 1000cc option among locally produced cars and was available in only 1 trim, whereas there were nearly a dozen choices among hatchbacks available during the 1980s.
Related: Suzuki Swift- All Generations
Khyber’s production run ended in year 2000 when it was replaced by Cultus. During all those 9 years the Khyber remain unchanged and missed some basic features like adjustable head-rests & retract mirrors which were available in the imported versions of the same car from late 80s.
Toyota Corolla 7th gen
Global lifespan: 1991-1998
In Pakistan: 1993-2002
The 7th gen E100 Corolla better known in our market as ‘Indus Corolla’ was the first local assembled Toyota Corolla. It was launched as a locally produced car in 1993 while the model was already available in international markets since 1991. Indus Motors skipped the 8th generation E110 Corolla and kept offering the E100 till 2002 when the 9th generation E120 Corolla eventually replaced it. The life span of the 7th gen Corolla in our market was almost 9 years, compared to the Corollas of the 80s when a model got replaced every 3rd year.
Related: Happy Birthday Honda City
It is important to note that these vehicles mainly enjoyed a prolong period because of the absence of competition in our market. However we are optimistic about the future, as more automakers are stepping in, things might change for good.
The government should also make sure that no automaker is allowed to sell whatever they want to sell here. It is their responsibility to ensure strong check & balance and defining outlines within which automakers should be able to offer quality products in Pakistan under a competition-driven environment . Also it is high time for consumers to prioritize quality & safety equipment when opting for cars rather than paying outrageous amounts just for the sake of looks & resale.