- Company again expresses intent to make its plant operational during current fiscal year
MG Motors General Manager Syed Asif Ahmed has expressed his company’s intent to launch three completely knocked down (CKD) models in Pakistan including the MG-HS, expanding its product line that has so far been dominated by imported units of the vehicle.
“MG’s five-year plan consists of introducing three models,” said Ahmed in a written response to Business Recorder.
The MG-GT, which is seen as a competitor to the Honda Civic, will also be part of the expansion plan in Pakistan, shared another official on condition of anonymity.
The company did not convey information on its third CKD model, and hesitated to share pricing details of the vehicles it plans to launch in Pakistan.
Pakistan is a “very CKD-oriented market,” Ahmed said while referring to the vehicles that are assembled at a local plant as opposed to completely built units (CBUs) that are imported.
“We are working closely with the Engineering Development Board (EDB). Despite global logistical crises, especially in China after Covid-19 lockdown and restrictions, plant equipment has arrived in Pakistan. We are working day and night to get it operational in the current fiscal year,” he said.
Ahmed’s statement reiterates the company’s stance that it wants to roll out locally-assembled MG vehicles in the country. While it has been importing units for over two years, introducing a locally-assembled lineup has so far eluded it.
MG JW Automobile Pakistan is a joint venture between Saic Motor International (Smil), a subsidiary of Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), and JW SEZ Group.
With an investment of $100 million, SAIC holds 51% shares in MG JW Automobile Pakistan, which intends to assemble vehicles under the brand name of MG at its assembly plant on Raiwind Road, Lahore.
“We want to provide the Pakistan customers with multiple options and features in our vehicles,” he said.
Ahmed also called safety features in locally-assembled vehicles “considerably weak”, and vowed to stick to global standards and features for MG vehicles, claiming that these would be without any “extra charges”.
He emphasised that MG is “not in the race to become the biggest player” in Pakistan.
“Like elsewhere in the world, each brand should have 10% to 15% market share to ensure healthy competition,” he said, noting that consumer expectations of safety features and warranty period have improved after the entry of new players in the automobile industry.
He stressed that it is high time that Pakistan benefits from its geographical advantage by accessing Central Asia, North Africa and Middle Eastern automotive markets.
“We are not a very attractive local market for global auto players, but we can surely become a vehicle-exporting nation,” he said.
Compact SUVs a hit in Pakistan
Compact SUVs make up 30% of India’s market, 40% of China’s market and 50% of the US market, Ahmed said. In Pakistan, the market now stands at nearly 20%, according to recent data.
“Pakistani consumers were starved for options. When SUVs were launched here, consumers were overwhelmed.”
Meanwhile, Ahmed said Pakistan’s auto industry should stop looking towards the government for handouts and try to stand on its own feet.
“The only sustainable, long-term solution to the recurring crises faced by the auto industry is the export of made-in-Pakistan vehicles,” he said.
“We are already over-protected. I wouldn’t ask for blanket incentives to maintain the status quo. The only special incentive I would seek is on electric vehicles. It’s a new avenue. A little hand-holding from the government will have a multiplier effect,” he said.
Ahmed said supply-chain disruptions should be blamed for the longer delivery lead time.
However, this period is the reason behind frustration of car buyers who have seen prices increase massively while they wait for delivery.