Says old cars, buses produce most pollution
If the idea behind promoting electric cars is to reduce carbon emissions then the scrappage policy should have preceded the electric vehicle policy, says Ali Asghar Jamali, the CEO of Indus Motor Company that makes Toyota cars in Pakistan.
Pakistan has old cars, buses and trucks that produce most of the traffic pollution in the country, according to Jamali. The government has jumped to the EV policy when it should have done many other things with environment in focus, including rolling out a car scrappage policy.
“EV policy is perhaps the last step [to reduce carbon emissions],” Jamali said in response to a query by SAMAA Money. “It seems the EV policy has been drafted in haste.”
Many countries such as Japan have stringent policies that lead to the scrapping of cars based on their emission checks. India recently devised its car scrappage policy in an effort to increase new car sales, lower air pollution and oil import bills as old and outdated engines are not fuel-efficient.
Recently, Pakistan too rolled out an EV policy in an effort to tackle climate change and reduce oil import bills.
But Jamali thinks that disruptive technologies such as the electric cars can rarely be predictable as to which technology under the umbrella of EV will eventually make its mark. For instance, he said, it is difficult to predict whether lithium or hydrogen-cell battery will be the right choice.
“It will get three to five years to get things clear in Pakistan about electric cars,” the IMC CEO said.
It is due to this apprehension that the IMC has had a wait-and-watch approach towards electric cars.
Why are hatchbacks not on the cards?
SAMAA Money asked Jamali why the Pakistani market is deprived of options in the hatchback category, which is the smallest and least priced car segment. But the IMC CEO disagreed that Pakistan doesn’t have much options in this segment.
“New entrants are also entering in the hatchbacks. Picanto (Kia) is a good car. Then there is Alpha and Bravo (United Motors),” he said. “MG Motors has also announced bringing a hatchback below Rs2 million. Then there is V2 (FAW). I think there are enough options.”
Apart from the above-mentioned cars, Suzuki leads the segment with its four hatchbacks, Alto, Wagon-R, Cultus and Swift. Regal Motors have also introduced Prince Pearl.
Jamali said that popular Toyota hatchback Vitz, which comes to Pakistan after being used in Japan, didn’t make a case for the IMC to launch it in the country.
Opposition to imported, used cars
“I am against everything that comes to Pakistan in CBU (completely built units),” the IMC CEO said. “CBUs don’t only hurt us, they hurt Pakistan too.
“There are six jobs behind every car manufactured in Pakistan,” he said. “If the import of CBU reduces or don’t let car manufacturing industry increase by one unit, it means six jobs are either lost or not created.”
Increasing competition in Pakistan auto arena
Jamali says the IMC takes competition from every carmaker seriously.
Changan has given a good price for its sedan, he said. Changan, the Chinese automaker, recently launched its Alsvin sedan. It is dubbed as the cheapest sedan car in Pakistan.
Jamali said that the ball is in people’s court as to how they respond to new cars. “Every company is here to do business and therefore we take competition with everyone seriously.”
What are IMC’s plans?
Jamali says the IMC already invested over Rs5 billion to increase its annual capacity from 65,000 units to 76,000 units, but the Covid-19 pandemic impeded the company’s plans.
The IMC has also been looking at certain new models to launch.
There are reports that the company may launch Toyota’s crossover SUV Corolla Cross.
But Jamali says that Vitz and Rav4 SUV don’t make a case for them in Pakistan.