Import of cars in Pakistan – bad for the industry?

The budget is upon us. Import of 3 year old cars is currently allowed and that is a problem. Why? Because a car that is three year old is practically new – you get a good price for it and the cars they are making nowadays, 3 years worth of mileage is not that much. This means most cars being imported were expensive because they were ONLY 3 years old.

Now in the upcoming budget, there are considerations to extend this ’3 year limit’ to 5 years. Now you can import 5 year old cars into Pakistan, so says the budget proposition. And guess who opposes this decisions? The automobile industry of Pakistan, of course.

According to a press release, the car industry folks believe that the importers will, and I quote,

‘dump junk automobiles in the market, creating unhealthy and unfair competition for the local manufacturers

Well sire, if that is the case, let the dumping of 2003 Honda Accords and 2006 model Toyota Vitz begin! It would take some serious battering to make a five year old car ‘junk’. Like I said, the cars made in 2006 for example, would still beat the Pakistani manufactured car built in 2010 ANY DAY! This should be taken as a wake up call by the Pakistani businessmen to get their act together and start producing cars worth paying money for. They – the automobile industry – sell us cars that are high on price and low on quality, and they do it because they have the one thing any business would want – a monopoly. Why would I buy a Toyota Corolla for 1.8 Million rupees when I can import a 2002 Honda Accord CF3 for 1.3 Million? Is it really worth your money to buy a Suzuki Cultus than to buy a Toyota Vitz?

This bill, if passed, would be a win for the consumer. They would have more cars to choose from, hence forcing the automobile industry to lower their prices (you wish!!).

I wonder what someone from Honda would say to this? If the price of production of these cars is so high, then why aren’t we told about this? If the car companies here want to make exuberant profits, then why wouldn’t the consumer look elsewhere?

Stay tuned for more on this…God willing.

Toyota Avanza in Pakistan

2010 has hardly started, and Pakistan sees five different cars being launched!

First, there was the Suzuki Swift (covered on CarAdvice here and for Swift pictures, see here). Then there is Toyota coming out with four different cars, all belonging to the, ahem ill-defined ‘spacious’ variety:

  • Toyota Prado (CarAdvice’s review of one cool feature in Prado can be found here)
  • Toyota Avanza
  • Toyota Fortuner (that I can’t help spell and call Fortrunner)
  • Terios  (by Dihatsu)

Toyota Avanza is priced at PKR 1,799,000 for the Standard version and PKR 1,999,000 for the ‘Up Spec’. And the difference of PKR 200,000 is because in the Up-Spec version, you have 4 speakers instead of 2, 15-inch alloys instead of 14-inch steel and ‘electronic’ rear view mirror control instead of ‘manual’.

The car is 1.5 liters which I feel will be underpowered if you stack the car up to full capacity and drive back home from a good lunch. Toyota is intelligent enough to introduce different cars into the market and play up to the wallet of all classes of our society. I keep hearing stupid remarks by people that ‘the cars are too expensive’ for Toyota to bring in. No man, the car is expensive for me to buy it! But there are definitely people out there who’d consider Toyota Avanza as a right fit for their combined family trip. Tthe reason Yamaha doesn’t bring in heavy bikes, or Suzuki doesn’t bring their highly successful GS series of motorbikes (from 150 CC to 750CC) to Pakistan is ‘officially’ quoted as ‘lack of a market’. Well, there will be no market unless some makes it, and Toyota makes it every time!

Toyota Avanza Pictures

This is what it is all about, check ‘em out.

Honda Accord CF3 (2002)

I have owned a fair bunch of cars. I started with a Swift (1990-91 model) that had been in our family since 1993. I got it in the year 2000. It was during the college days. Sold that to buy a Mehran. A brand new one. I loved the Mehran (why, if you dare ask, would one love a car like that? then you’ve got to read my review of Suzuki Mehran). After Mehran, I bought a brand new Baleno. I sold the Baleno, at a good price, in 2006. In the January of 2007, I got my hand on a car that is definitely a sure-fire winner. The Honda Accord CF3.

When I decided to buy the car, pretty much everyone told me not to buy it. Why? Well, for the only reason people tell you not to buy a car i.e. resale. “Market kee garee nahi hai” or “Buy a new Corolla and be done with it!” What? I have not regretted buying the sleek CF3 one bit, since the 3 odd years that I have owned it.

The car drives like a charm. It gives me 8 to 9 kms to the liter. I had decided when I bought it that I will not install CNG to the car, and I am so far happy with that decision. At 1800 CCs, the Accord has smooth acceleration and nimble handling, thanks to the EPS (Electronic Power Steering). Of course, handling of a car has not ‘that’ much to do with the Power Steering, but the overall ‘feel’ of the drive is enhanced many folds.

I imported the Accord CF3 directly from Japan, and I registered it myself (for a whopping 60 thousand rupees or so). And before I bore you further, here are the pictures:

This car is now for sale, at PakWheels.com (Click here to see the listing)

Suzuki Swift 2010 in Pakistan

It has been a long time coming. As you are aware, we have been hoping for the Swift to be brought to Pakistan for some time now. Suzuki did what any sensible company should have done and brought a jawdropper to the market. Yes, it is three years late, but aren’t we all? :/

Anyways, the car is lovely, as you can see the pictures 0f the Swift here. And one thing of note is that it comes only in one trim and has no CNG, and that is good as there is hardly any CNG to go around. I hear that CNG owners are probably going to convert their stations into marriage halls, available for rent. If governments make profits from Rental Power, maybe they can make money from Rentals also. Before I get too political, know that the new Suzuki Swift is priced at a cool 1 million rupees. Therefore it is probably not targeted at the Cultus market (Cultus being, frankly, a shit car).

The new Swift obviously is a fun car to see (and according to the Swift reviews, a fun car to drive as well).

The car is priced at PKR 1,000,000/-. (They are pricing it like a Bata shoe – Rs 999,000!)

Leasing the Suzuki Swift in Pakistan

So if you lease your Suzuki Swift with a 20% down, you end up paying to the tune of Rs 24,000 per month. If you can manage up to half the price as down-payment (PKR 500,000), then the per month installment (including the insurance) comes to around a more bearable 16,000 per month.

P.S. If any of you are interested in leasing out this car, do sign up on our soon to be released Leasing section.

Suzuki’s APV: What good is this All Purpose Vehicle?

apv20design20concept201Suzuki has about 3 years ago started importing APV to supplement (or perhaps replace) its ailing BOLAN Van. The APV however is now being used to give direct competition to Mitsubishi’s L300 & Toyota’s Hiace Commuter Vans as well as being advertised for your ‘entire’ (read joint) family needs. Lets see what the APV is all about!

 Its price (ranging from Rs1.62million to Rs.1.675million) is perhaps its weapon of choice (as with all Suzuki models) with its competing Mitsubishi’s L300 price ranging between Rs.1.999million to Rs.2.349million & the more popular Hiace retailing between Rs.2.499million & Rs.3.199million.

dmmcl300_landing

Moreover its smaller overall & engine size makes it more economical & easier to navigate on narrow inner-city roads found in all the major cities of Pakistan. Engine dispalcement of APV is 1493cc compared to L300′s 2477cc & Hiace’s 1593cc.  Overall length of APV is 4.23m much less than L300′s 4.59m (STD) & 4.81m (DX). Although both claim a min. turning radius of 4.9m APV can even part where L300 won’t (even with bumpers removed).

Fuel tank of L300 is slightly bigger 55L compared with APV’s 47L so is the seating capacity (L300:12; APV:8) but the size of fuel tank does not come as an advantage while within the urban areas & in Pakistan seating capacity is hardly what is written in the brochure.

The only thing the car isn’t good for is what it is actually advertised for: accomodating large-joint families because Suzuki’s own BOLAN beats APV in all categories (price, fuel efficiency & mobility) except comfort. But when the whole family travels together who needs comfort; all we need is to get wherever we are going fast to avoid verbal skirmishes.

Porsche’s (mis)adventure in Pakistan’s market!?

porschePorsche Pakistan was launched by Autotechnik  Pvt. Ltd. in 2005 with the establishment of Porsche Centre Lahore. Autotechnik is the exclusive importer of Porsche cars in Pakistan.

normalAfter changing two locations & opening/closing a service centre the company seems to have shut down its operations temporarily. The reasons purpotedly include a clash between partners & a ‘fall-out’ with the parent company in Germany.

cayman-sToday the contact numbers given by Autotechnik website are 0425872871 & 042-5872875 while the Porsche International Website (incidentally linked on Porsche Pakistan website gives the same as (Sales) 111-777-911 & (Service) 111-888-911. I’m confused but what is more confusing is that none of them is being attended.

cayenne-turboNevertheless the cars that are being sold are being sold at these proces (as er Porsche-Pakistan.com website:

www.porsche-pakistan.com

Boxster Rs.6.483m                     Boxster S Rs.7.502m

Cayman Rs.6.977m                   Cayman S Rs.7.908m

Cayenne Rs.7.003m                 Cayenne S Rs.9.082m                        

Cayenne GTS Rs.10.018m      Cayenne Turbo Rs.14.213m

Unfortunately the classic 911 & the superfast Panamera range are not available in Lahore but you can get one from Middle East importers.

The convertible Boxster has a top speed of 258kph (standard) & 272kph (S-type) while Cayman & Cayman S have almost identical topspeed but with a fixed roof.

Until the sales start once more you can try checking out the porsche international website http://www.porsche.com for any further updates.

Where to buy your car from?

This post is not about giving you the addresses of the car dealers or showrooms but it merely gives you some tips about who to buy from & who not to.

Scenario 1: Where to Buy? Authorized Dealer vs Large Showroom

In context of which shop to buy from you can decide either to purchase from the authorized dealriship of the automobile’s assembler / importer OR you can buy from a wide array of large showrooms found in all major cities that purchase in bulk / import for resale. Advantage of authorized dealership is their guarantee to fix any aftersale problems while the large private showrooms provide ceratin models available exclusively through them.

Scenario 2: Where to Buy? Lease from Bank vs Pay Cash

The second scenario regarding where to buy involves deciding whether to lease a bigger, better car from a financial institution or purchasse on cash a smaller more ‘cosy’ car. Advantages of leasing discussed in earlier posts include ability to switch cars upon completion of repayment schedule & not having to worry about maintainence & repairs. On the other hand the ‘expensiveness’  of such a purchase and continous monthly cash outlays for repayment/running are reduced in cash payment approach.

Scenario 3: Where to Buy? New vs Second Hand

Yet another where to buy scenario arises whenyou must decide whether to purchase a new car or a second hand one. Again it depends not just on your budget but also on your requirements. If you need a family car & don’t have enough cash go for a ‘re-conditioned’ second hand car. Otherwise it is mostly adviseable to buy new car so that it requires less expense to run & maintain.

Scenario 4: Where to Buy? New Local vs New Import

Last but not the least is the big question whether to buy a local newbie or go for an exotic import. This is not only a case of personal taste but as we know in Pakistan it may become a case of ‘durability’ as well. My experience says that a foreign-assembled car (especially Japanese) runs with a lot less hiccups than a local-assembled car (even of same brand). Let your experience be your guide in this case.

Vitz & Platz: Are they any good on Pakistani roads?

800px-03-05_toyota_echo_sedan800px-2002_toyota_vitz_01

Toyota developed Vitz (aka Yaris) & Platz (aka Echo) initially for sale/use in European & Japanese markets. However, just because they are cheaper (to buy) many of my local brethren have fallen ‘prey’ to dubious dealers selling Vitz & Platz (mostly re-conditioned ones) as Japanese assembled “A-Category” automobiles.

During the course of my research I came across an article by an American ex-pat, Heather Carriero currently teaching in Pakistan who has a self-described ‘unquenchable” thirst for travel, adventure & new challenges.

Her article cites the cars’  low clearance, non-compatibility with CNG kits & overall poor quality of fuel in Pakistan as the most daunting problems faced by these foreign-assembled cars.

You can read more of her article at the link given below:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1057526/warning_buying_and_driving_a_toyota.html?cat=27

Heather’s VERDICT: Would love to buy, own & use both in Japan but they are just not suitable to the environment of the subcontinent.

Your VERDICT: ???

Suzuki Alto vs Daihatsu Cuore

design_concept_alto_11img_coure-1Suzuki’s Alto has been launched by the carmaker to compete with Daihatsu’s Cuore. Although they are both priced in the same range (Alto variants priced for Rs.0.588million & Rs.0.637million while variants of Cuore sell for Rs.0.569million to Rs.0.709million); engine displacement of Cuore is only 847cc (3-cylinders) with a 3-speed A/T transmission  (5-speed in CX & CXCNG variants) compared with 970cc (4-cylinders) displacement of the Alto’s with its 5-speed M/T transmission.

is more compact at 3.3m in length while Alto is slightly larger at 3.395m. Both have near exact suspension systems i.e. MacPherson Strut for front wheels & isolated trailing link for rear ones. WHile fuel tanks are also identical (37-litre capacity) the CNG cylinder in Alto is slightly bigger (55-L) than Cuore’s (50-L).

If Alto sells for its better performance features the severalphoto_7 variants of Cuore design_concept_alto_11make it affordable to a variety of buyers including some chunk of the Cultus market which is otherwise the only car that competes exclusively against ‘unorganized imports’. Both are assembled locally with Daihatsu assembling their’s at the Toyota Indus Motors plant & Suzuki having their own assembly unit.

Suzuki Liana ke na liana?

liana20main20picLets face it with price of the lowest tier 1.3L RXI MT starting at Rs.0.952million with the top of the line 1.6L EMINENT AT going for Rs.1.086million Liana is ”poor man’s sedan”. But is this just our ATTITUDE?

Although most of us grew up or around Suzuki manufactured vehicles but ever since other Japanese carmakers (Honda, Toyota & Nissan) set-up their car-assembly units we have come to look down upon Suzuki vehicles with a high degree of disdain.

Suzuki has never tried to allay this impression and we have made it out into some sort of a firm belief. Now with new inductions and elimination of ‘failed’ brands Suzuki maybe out to set things right but is it too late, only time will tell.

liana20web20imageLet us examine what it calls Life In A New Age (or LIANA for short). Suzuki’s Liana is the shortest of all sedans with a length of 4.35m from bumper-to-bumper slightly shorter even than Honda’s CITY (4.395m) and comes in three variants: The basic RXI, slightly luxuries LXI & top-of-the-line EMINENT.

Suzuki knowing well their ‘thrift-conscious’ clientele have factory fitted the RXI & LXI with CNG which are available as an option only. With EMINENT SUzuki appears to be attempting to play ‘cach-up’ with the CITY since even their prices have a less than Rs.0.100million difference (some might say its a ‘wannabe’ CITY).

liana20vurv20design20concept201Shiny, metallic interior is complimented by the new chrome front-grill & alloy tyre-rims which are again an option only. With new fog lamps added to suit the needs of up-country Pakistani clients & a new ‘sparkling’ tail-light Liana seems to scream ‘look at me, I am a sedan too’.

The only feature other than the factory-fit 60L CNG cylinder (Petrol tank holds max. 50L fuel) that I really like is the key-less entry buttons (placed on the key itself they may look tachy but are functional to say the least). Here Suzuki has taken a leaf out of the Mitsubishi Lancer’s manual which has the same option in all its new models.

This is all there is to a Liana so now Suzuki Liana ke na Liana “Bring it (home) or don’t” is up to you and your pocket’s liking.