Indus Motor Company (IMC) sold the locally assembled L500-series Daihatsu Cuore 800cc hatchback in Pakistan between year 2000 and 2012. Pakistan was the only country other than Japan where the L500 was produced.
Back in the home market Japan where it was known as Mira, the L500 came equipped with a 660cc engine and was produced between 1994 and 1998. In Pakistan however the Cuore came equipped with an 847cc (ED-10) carburetor engine that was originally deployed with the L70-series Mira/ Cuore in 1985. IMC had to pull the plugs off the Cuore in 2012 due to the enforcement of Euro-II emission standards as the car came equipped with a carburetor engine from the 1980s and a fuel-injected 800cc engine replacement was not available at its parent’s disposal. Whereas the new generation engines couldn’t be fitted into the car.
In its time, the Daihatsu Cuore remained one of the most successful cars in Pakistan despite a relatively high price tag and a rather prolonged production period. Still it was economical, practical, decent to look at, easy to maintain and the only small hatchback to be available with an automatic transmission. In fact during its time, even 1000cc hatchback in the market lacked an automatic gearbox option, so it was quite special. There was a factory fitted CNG version on offer too, called as the Cuore Eco as the craze of CNG was at its peak during the previous decade. Now almost 8 years after it was discontinued, the company is yet to introduce its replacement in Pakistan.
Last year Pak Suzuki introduced the 8th generation Alto 660cc replacing the 30-year old 2nd generation Alto better known as Mehran in Pakistan. It was also the first-ever locally assembled car to offer a 660cc fuel injected engine under its hood. Due to the absence of small cars the Alto become an instant hit and received several thousand bookings. This made Pak Suzuki revise its prices for 3 times in 6 months even when Pak Rupee regained its strength against the US Dollar.
This goes to show that there is a huge demand for small cars in Pakistan but existing players including Toyota & Honda as well as newcomers never considered introducing smaller cars in our market and instead opted to leave the segment to be wholly enjoyed by Pak Suzuki.
Today if IMC re-introduces the Cuore hatchback in Pakistan, which will obviously be a rebadged 660cc Mira, it can achieve the same sort of success which Pak Suzuki Alto enjoys. In fact, the Daihatsu Mira is a much better vehicle to look at. And furthermore most generations of Mira are available in our market thanks to used JDM imports and have already developed a trusted consumer base which IMC can easily cash on. Plus re-launching the Cuore nameplate can bring back the trust of thousands of satisfied L500 users into buying the new Cuore. This is a similar recipe which allowed Pak Suzuki to launch Celerio with Cultus nameplate and the results were highly positive.
The latest generation Daihatsu Mira
By offering products that fits within the reach of masses, automakers can achieve far better results than to keep on crying for low sales. Just for a reminder, as of the first 6 months of this fiscal year, the Pak Suzuki Alto 660cc outsold every other car in our market by a huge margin which is evident from the table below.
|Suzuki Alto 660cc||All 1,000cc cars||All 1,300cc & above cars||All Pickups, 4x4s & SUVs|
They say where there is a will there is a way. And there is no reason why automakers in Pakistan prefer operating as a cartel instead of competing against each other by providing better and competitive products in the market.
IMC is currently in process of introducing the Yaris sedan that will come as a replacement of 1.3L Corolla variants in Pakistan. After which there is a high-end hybrid SUV in pipeline as well as the 12th gen Toyota Corolla, however the company currently has no plans to introduce its smaller cars here.
Our market starves for low budget cars for the masses and Daihatsu cars have the potential to fill that gap. Launching cars in sub 1.5 million price bracket will definitely give IMC an edge in capturing the small car market in Pakistan. Do you think they should re-introduce the likes of Daihatsu Cuore/Mira in Pakistan? Let us know with your comments.
Daihatsu is the oldest Japanese car manufacturer, mostly known for its range of small cars and off-road vehicles. Although founded in 1951, Daihatsu has its roots that trace back as far as 1907. Toyota acquired a controlling interest of 51% in Daihatsu in 1988, bringing the company under its umbrella. But in 2016 it has purchased Daihatsu’s remaining assets, thus making Daihatsu a wholly owned subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation. In its home market in Japan, Daihatsu gives a cut-throat competition to Suzuki which is best known for producing small cars. As of 2019, Suzuki holds a 30% market share in small (kei) car segment in Japan whereas Daihatsu holds 32% of the same.