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Pakistan-India: a tale of two very distinct electric cars

  • Distinction in features of one vehicle alone conveys how different the industries are in the two countries
Published August 17, 2022
Photo: Bilal Hussain/Business Recorder
Photo: Bilal Hussain/Business Recorder
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Social media was abuzz with so-called reports that while India will be launching its own electric vehicle on its diamond jubilee, Pakistan would unveil a new song on its Independence Day.

It was not the case.

DICE Foundation unveiled Pakistan’s indigenously designed electric vehicle and also displayed the car – Nur-E 75 prototype – at a local hotel in Karachi on August 14. The car is expected to launch in 2024.

The next day, August 15, Indian ride-hailing firm Ola Electric also revealed its plans to begin producing electric cars, also in 2024.

The Pakistani EV has a range of 210km while the Indian company says its car will have a range of up to 500km.

According to different company officials, Nur-E 75 is expected to be priced between Rs2 million and Rs4 million but there was obvious reluctance to share official estimates. Who can blame them? Volatility is on the higher side.

On the other hand, Ola did not reveal the price but Indian websites are expecting a price of INR 8 lacs. INR 800,000 roughly converts to Rs2.2 million.

The Pakistani EV, labelled the country's first indigenous electric vehicle, has been designed and developed by DICE Foundation, a US-based non-profit organisation run by expatriate Pakistanis in the US, EU, etc. along with support from local academia and industry.

Chairman and founder of DICE Foundation, Dr Khurshid Qureshi, is an expert on the development of autonomous vehicles.

Dr Qureshi said at the event that they will need significant financing of $60 million to $80 million in order to ramp up production capacity. The unveiling event was also attended by parts manufacturers, and officials of OEMs such as Lucky Motor Company and Toyota.

Meanwhile, Ola, which is backed by Japan's Softbank Group and currently makes e-scooters, did not give an investment figure or production target.

Nur-E 75 prototype has been tested with a top speed of 127km. Ola's electric car would go from 0 to 100 km in four seconds, according to company officials. The company says it is setting up an electric vehicle ecosystem, aiming to produce cars, two-wheelers and batteries all at a single plant in the state of Tamil Nadu, he said.

The company has sold over 70,000 electric two-wheelers in the last seven months, and was in the process of setting up 100 hyper charging electric stations in major cities in India.

Ola had planned to go public in the first half of 2022, but an initial public offering has been postponed, possibly due to volatility in the market and lackluster listings of some start-ups in India this year.

According to the Indian Express, Ola Electric did not reveal much in a livestream on Monday where the car was announced. A teaser image shared by company’s founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal in July this year depicted a hatchback. But the silhouette of the car depicted in the Ola Electric video shows what looks like a sedan with a fastback roof.

On the other hand, DICE Foundation displayed the first prototype of Nur-E 75, which has a futuristic shape and a body size of a1000cc hatchback.

Distinct tales These are two very distinct trajectories, when it comes to technology and development.

In India, auto production has grown steadily, and the industry now boasts a huge size.

Experts in Pakistan praise India’s policy for limiting the country’s auto industry to only locally made cars. For years, Indians were seen driving only the Hindustan Ambassador. It is understood that the policy helped India localise its auto sector.

On the other hand, Pakistan’s auto industry is highly dependent on import of auto parts to provide cars to a starved nation struggling immensely in the absence of proper public transport.

The recent rupee movement only cements the most fundamental issue with the industry.

Some experts are celebrating the news of an indigenously designed electric vehicle in Pakistan, which gives hope that Pakistan could be a part of the global race of producing EVs, tipped to dominate the car industry by 2040s.

They want the government to help make the production of EVs in Pakistan feasible so that the country can make its mark.

Pakistan's problem isn't talent. Its lack of consistent policymaking and sticking to a strategy. Let's see if this latest attempt works.

The article does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Business Recorder or its owners

Bilal Hussain

The writer is a Reporter at Business Recorder (Digital)


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Fact Check Aug 18, 2022 07:04am
Getting few things correct. India has already EVs in the form of TATA and Mahindra. The above mentioned organisations are in the process of entering market or launching new vehicles. EVs are already plying on Indian roads with a comparatively negligible presence. Comparing markets where one launched a prototype and the other which has already started mass production is like comparing oranges with apples. Google Tata EV for more information.
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