- Despite headwinds facing auto sector, Indus Motor Company CEO says locally-assembled hybrid vehicle will be introduced
Despite economic challenges faced by Pakistan's automobile industry, Indus Motor Company (IMC), the assemblers of Toyota-brand vehicles, plans to launch its crossover SUV Corolla Cross in 2023 as per schedule.
The company has made the decision despite estimates that car sales will see a decline of 50% in fiscal year 2022-23.
IMC CEO Ali Asghar Jamali said at an event last week that “sales can drop to as low as 160,000 cars in fiscal year 2023 if suspension on import of completely knocked down (CKD) units persists”.
However, even if the restrictions are lifted, Jamali did not see car sales crossing 200,000 cars in the ongoing fiscal year.
According to him, the demand for cars has reduced significantly for several reasons including restrictions on financing, inflation and hike in prices.
“Despite these challenges, the company will launch Corolla Cross as per plan next year,” he said.
Automobile sales plunged 50% in the first quarter (July-September) of fiscal year 2022-23 to 28,571 units against 57,539 sold during the same period last year.
The company pledged investing $100 million for local production of hybrids last year.
When asked about high prices of cars, the CEO said that the auto industry has implemented a high level of localisation, however, the problem exists with the allied industry.
“Pakistan should develop a national industrial policy for a period of 20 years to attract investors to set up steel and plastic industries,” he said. “Steel and plastic resins are currently being imported that drive the car prices higher.”
Automobile sector expert Usman Ansari told Business Recorder that Corolla Cross is successful in many countries but its success in Pakistan will depend on its launch price.
The three CBU variants of Corolla Cross, all with an engine capacity 1798cc, are currently selling in Pakistan in the range of Rs12.2 million and Rs13.4 million. However, the company has now suspended bookings due to import restrictions imposed by the government.