LAHORE: The fruits of the multi-billion dollars China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) have begun ripening as joint ventures between Pakistani and Chinese companies have started entering the production mode.
In this regard, the latest development is the entry of the Chinese automobile company Dongfeng Sokon (DFSK) through a joint venture with the local automobile company Regal Automobiles Industries Limited (RAIL).
The joint venture recently launched a locally assembled 800cc passenger vehicle, Pearl Prince, in the market. According to the company officials, this car would be the country’s most affordable variant in the category of 800cc cars.
Previously, a Japanese car manufacturer enjoyed monopoly in this engine category. “This is the first time that a local company has taken a step forward to contribute to the country’s economy while making sure customers get high-quality product at an affordable price,” said Regal Automobiles Managing Director Muhammad Adeel Usman.
Earlier, the company was in the business of importing motorcycle spare parts and assembling them under their brand name with 80% localisation rate.
According to the managing director, the auto policy 2016-21 encouraged the company to enter the four wheeler segment.
“Consumers will lead the automotive market in the next decade as they will now have diverse options unlike previous decades where few Japanese car manufacturers dominated the market,” Usman said.
The local partner of the joint venture has invested Rs1.5 billion to establish an assembly plant near Lahore with annual production capacity of 15,000 units.
Currently the company sells four variants in Pakistan which include light commercial vehicles, passenger cars and SUV. According to the company, the total number of units sold so far in Pakistan is close to 3,000. “We are currently using 20% local components and we plan to increase this number to 80% by next year,” said the MD. The 800cc variant would be priced at Rs1.05 million.
Regal Automobiles Industries Limited was established in 2017 as a technical venture between DFSK, a renowned Chinese brand and RP Group, one of Pakistan’s most prominent business conglomerates to manufacture and market Prince vehicles in the country.
Talking about the perception of Chinese products, which are often considered to be of low quality by many Pakistanis, Usman said that those days are gone when China was considered the manufacturing hub of low quality products.
“China is leading the world and there is no more cheap labour available there,” he pointed out. “All renowned brands have moved their manufacturing bases to China hence it is not fair to say that the technology we are offering through our Chinese counterpart will be of lower quality.”