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KARACHI: Indus Motor Company (IMC) is planning to launch its first locally-assembled Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) SUV, Toyota Corolla Cross, by 2023.

“Yes, we are planning to launch our first-ever locally-assembled HEV SUV - Toyota Corolla Cross by 2023,” said CEO IMC Ali Asghar Jamali at the 6th Journalists Summit 2022 organised by the company at Muzaffarabad, AJK the other day.

“Continuing the legacy of ‘Make in Pakistan’ philosophy, Toyota has already invested $100 million to produce HEVs in Pakistan,” he Jamali.

When asked why IMC has so far not tapped the potential of a newly-developed niche between Rs 5 million to 7 million, being explored by almost all major new auto players to launch their SUVs in Pakistan, he revealed that Toyota Corolla Cross would be launched in a similar price range.

If the Toyota Corolla Cross - HEV is launched at a price between Rs 5 million to Rs 7 million, it would be a smart move to knock out all auto assemblers, offering their conventional 5-seat SUVs in a similar price range but we have to wait till 2023 to see either it is just a claim or the IMC is eager to be dominant in this SUVs niche.

“The automotive industry in Pakistan is one of the fastest-growing industries in the country and it accounts for over 2-3 percent of country’s GDP. Pakistan is the 35th largest producer of automobiles,” said Jamali.

He was of the view that the introduction of hybrid technology would not only add a new dimension to localisation in Pakistan but would also benefit the country in terms of forex savings and reduction of the petroleum import bill.

Bringing Electric Vehicle (EV) is also a part of the company’s long-term policy as Hybrid vehicles are a midterm solution before Electric Vehicles as Pakistan doesn’t have the infrastructure ready for EVs, Jamali opined.

“We can confidently claim that with existing power generation mix HEVs can serve all the objectives of EVs, including a cap on carbon emission, reduction in oil import bill while contributing to the localization and increase in GDP,” he added.

“Pakistan imports $9.7 billion worth of crude oil for refineries to produce petrol and diesel and the largest category of import is petroleum commodities,” said Jamali, adding that the import bill can be reduced by 50 percent if the country has 100 percent HEVs.

On the other hand, the BEVs depend on electricity and Pakistan is producing 62 percent of electricity based on fossil fuels with up to 30 percent line losses.

“The EVs will increase local LNG, coal, and crude oil imports while investment for improving distribution and creating a charging infrastructure would also be required,” Jamali said.

The IMC CEO said the company is increasing production capacity to meet increasing customer demands while suppliers are also requested to cap up their capacities to meet future demands as the company aims to produce over 90,000 vehicles in 2022 with 100% efficiency and over time, adding that they are putting extra effort and time currently to produce vehicles more than the company’s current capacity.

“The IMC always supports the government initiatives for sustainable development and growth of the economy.

Speaking on the price hike of vehicles in Pakistan, he said the whole world has witnessed unprecedented inflationary pressures in the last couple of years and Pakistan was no exception.

He said the pandemic, Russia-Ukraine conflict, rupee-dollar disparity, exponential increase in utilities, high freight charges, and taxes were the factors behind the price hike on vehicles in Pakistan.

He stressed encouraging make in Pakistan policy as he believes that it was the most sustainable solution to the country’s economic problems. He said it would help achieve macroeconomic economic goals, GDP increase, employment generation, exports boost, and imports reduction as well.

Jamali also urged that Pakistan should also develop a national industrial policy for the period of 20 years so that the serious investors can come to Pakistan eventually, attracting the Foreign Direct Investment in the field of Steel, Resin, Light Engineering, etc besides strengthening the local value addition in the whole value chain further.

Later, industry experts and part makers including former chairman Nabeel Hashmi also spoke about the effectiveness of successive auto policies.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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