The problem with Sedans in Pakistan

An oligopoly in the market of sedans has allowed manufacturers to compromise on quality.


February 07, 2010

Yes, there are a considerable number of problems with the sedans that are available in Pakistan. The biggest one being that there aren’t enough of them. But before we get in to the nitty-gritties of what the problems are, there are a number of factors that need to be considered first.

What are Sedans?

Sedans are vehicles with three box configuration. That means that there are separate compartments for passengers, engine and cargo. They differ from hatchbacks because the rear is extended for a truck that provides adequate space for storage. Sedans in general tend to be pricier than hatchbacks depending on specifications.

Sedans in Pakistan

In Pakistan, there are three main players in the market for Sedans; Toyota Corolla, Honda City and Honda Civic. Now you must be wondering why only these three have been mentioned whereas anyone who has been on the streets of any city in Pakistan will see the likes of Mitsubishi Lancers, Nissan Sunny, Suzuki Liana and many more. The reason they are not listed is that the manufacturing of these vehicles no longer takes place in Pakistan. Thus, they have been discontinued.

At one time, Kia Motors had introduced a series of Sedans; Kia Classic and Spectra. However, their era of fame did not last very long and they were discontinued along with the decline of Dewan’s involvement in the car manufacturing industry.

For the longest time, Suzuki was a very prominent player when it came to Sedans, especially when it entered the market with their once famed vehicle; Margalla. It was eventually replaced by the Baleno and then by the Liana. The two did not live up to the fame of their predecessor and have since been discontinued.

Apart from locally produced vehicles, there is a vast variety of imported Sedans that are available from local dealerships. If you’re a person who prefers the best luxuries in life, you can swoop over to one of the Mercedes, Porche, Audi or BMW showrooms for a brand new luxury car or you could simply head to one of the many dealerships that offer a variety of used imported cars. In recent years, even one of the biggest local manufacturers of cars has taken a step to import zero meter cars like their very popular Land Cruiser, Prado, and Accord and made them readily available in their Toyota Authorised Dealerships. They also decided to import the Prius which proved to be a mistake for them as the sales of that particular vehicle were almost non-existent. The reason being, you could buy a used Prius for less than 2/3rd the price.

Many people, who can afford it, will pay the premium prices of imported vehicles over the locally produced ones for a number of reasons. Two of them being; they are more reliable and they provide better safety.

The safety standards that local manufacturers abide by in Pakistan are very different from the ones followed in more developed countries. For starters, most of the vehicles produced do not come equipped with air bags. For a country where over 30,000 road accidents occur every year, little has been done to improve the standards of safety that manufacturers should abide by. Even the ones that do come equipped with airbags, they are only provided for the driver and not the passenger. Also, it was not a very long time ago when most locally manufactured cars did not come with Anti-Lock Braking Systems (ABS). There are still some manufacturers that do not provide ABS in their lower models.

Apart from safety, another complaint that people have is that most Sedans’ low suspensions do not make them the best fit for the uneven roads in Pakistan. That may be why most Pakistanis have begun to prefer SUVs and CUVs over Sedans.

Conclusion

The three big players in the market have recently formed a very strong oligopoly in the market of Sedans in Pakistan and most of it is due to the discontinuation of a number of Sedans, namely; Margalla, Baleno, Liana, Lancer and Sunny. At the moment, Mitsubishi and Nissan have showed no sign of reintroducing Sedans in Pakistan and KIA motors has completely shut itself down in Pakistan. But history shows that Suzuki has followed a pattern in which they have readily replaced their vehicles with newer ones. Just like the Baleno once replaced the Margalla which was then replaced by Liana. If rumours are correct, Suzuki intends to launch the Ciaz early in February this year which will replace the Liana and hopes to provide better safety along with a stylish design. Let’s see how well that’s going to turn out.

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