The numbers match the reality on the roads. Imports are gaining ground. 26 out of every 100 cars sold in 2011-12 were imports, according to data compiled by The Express Tribune.
The share of imported cars has phenomenally increased as more than 55,000 cars reached the country, up 162% from 21,000 cars imported a year ago.
However, at the same time, sales of locally assembled cars also surged by 23 percent to 157,325 units compared with the preceding year’s 127,944 units.
In line with the local trend, Toyota, Suzuki and Honda constitute the largest share in the import market. Other than these three, Mitsubishi and Nissan also have a noticeable share.
All Pakistan Motor Dealers Association Chairman (APMDA) HM Shahzad agrees that the share of imported vehicles will significantly rise this year.
Car importers are trying to convince the government to increase the age of imported used cars to 10 years from the current 5 years.
“We hope the upcoming trade policy government will accept our demand,” said Shahzad.
Car importers believe they can easily double car imports from the present 55,000 to around 100,000 if the government increases the age limit.
However, the stumbling block is local car assemblers who are lobbying against the move to keep their cars dominance on the streets.
1000cc and below lead the way
Of the five engine categories, around 45% of total imports belong to 1000cc and below category that includes Toyota Vitz, data shows.
Toyota Vitz and Toyota Passo are the leading Toyota models while Daihatsu Mira is also popular in small cars, dealers said.
The other four engine categories, 1000cc and above, together constitute the remaining 55% of car imports.
Shahzad believes that the share of 1000cc and below category will further increase with the changing dynamics of the local market. With the discontinuation of Diahatsu Cuore and Suzuki Alto, imported cars of 1000cc or less are expected to fill the gap left in the local market.
Atif Zafar, analyst at JS Global Capital Limited said that the reason behind the rising demand of imports is the shrinking difference between the price of locally assembled cars and their foreign counterparts.
“Customers prefer used Japanese cars because of variety, uniqueness and quality despite them being slightly more costly than local counterparts,” added Zafar.
Vitz 2006 and 2007– one of the popular imports in the 1000cc category – is available for Rs0.9 to 1 million while Suzuki Cultus, popular local hatchback in the same segment, is available for Rs965,000.
The relatively classier locally assembled Suzuki variant Swift – belonging to the 1000cc to 1300cc category –is priced between Rs1.2 million and Rs1.3 million, slightly higher or in the same range as imports from Japan.
Cars and other automobile vehicles are being imported through three major schemes; personal baggage scheme, transfer of residence scheme and gift scheme. Of the total, 98% have been imported under the personal baggage scheme while 1,050 cars reached the port under transfer of residence and gift schemes.
Cars with up to 1000cc engines is the leading category more than 24,507 cars units, bringing its share to 44.5% of total car imports in fiscal year 2012.
The second leading category was 1301cc to 1500cc cars which stood at 17,601 units and made 32% of total car imports.
The third category was 1001cc to 1300cc segment in which 7,882 units were imported and constituted 14.3% of the market share. In the gas guzzler category of cars belonging in the 1601cc to 1800cc category, 3,986 units were imported.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2012.