Green car: The juice on hybrids in Pakistan

Published: May 19, 2013
Email
The Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid can accelerate from a standstill to 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds. Its special feature is its unique efficiency and the ability to drive considerable distances in all-electric mode.

The Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid can accelerate from a standstill to 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds. Its special feature is its unique efficiency and the ability to drive considerable distances in all-electric mode.

The Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid features a 3.0-litre V6 supercharged engine and an electric machine (motor/generator) that provides additional power on demand. With a top speed of 242 km/h, it can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.5 seconds. The Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid can accelerate from a standstill to 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds. Its special feature is its unique efficiency and the ability to drive considerable distances in all-electric mode. The Toyota Prius is a full hybrid electric mid-size hatchback. Currently it is the most popular hybrid in the world. Its estimated fuel-efficiency is 21 kilometres per litre. The BMW ActiveHybrid 7 is the first BMW model with an automatic transmission to feature an engine Start/Stopfunction. The engine automatically switches off when the car is stationary. This cuts fuel consumption and emissions. It can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.9 seconds.

If you lived near the Lahore airport and had to drive to Mall road regularly, you’d be open to buying a car whose fuel cost you less. Amir Riaz has that 50km commute, and he’s quite frank about his decision to keep a hybrid car. “I have a [regular car] too,” he told The Express Tribune. “But I prefer taking my [hybrid]. It is just sensible. It consumes one-fourth of the fuel.”

The hybrid guzzles less gas because it uses a combination of petrol and electric power (in the form of a battery). Pakwheels CEO Raza Saeed says over 90% of the hybrids sold on their website are the Toyota Prius manufactured in Japan. Other choices include the Insight and Reborn by Honda or the Civic hybrid. Some high-end names recently introduced to Pakistan are the Porsche hybrid and the BMW 7-series.

Porsche Panamera S-E Hybrid

While prices may vary depending on the model of the used car, something like the Toyota Prius will set you back 1.4m rupees. If you’ve got the cash to spare you could consider what Porsche, Mercedes and BMW have to offer at a hefty price tag of Rs13.5m. Porsche Pakistan CEO Abuzar Bukhari brought in the first luxury hybrid, the Cayenne, which consumes 13.76 litres of petrol for every 100 kilometres. Interestingly enough, this is an SUV giving you better road mileage than a much smaller non-hybrid 1300cc or 1000cc car. “Pakistanis should not be limited to […] for hybrids,” he argues while naming two companies. “We Pakistanis deserve better, why buy used cars from other countries?”

Imports are the most obvious option, though, especially since no one is making them locally. These hybrids, many from Japan and the UK, are being brought over the Afghan border in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. However, the majority of them are arriving at Port Qasim in Karachi. About two out of 10,000 used cars reaching Karachi shores each month are hybrids.

The hybrid is considered more environmentally friendly and economical when it comes to fuel consumption. And as petrol prices rise in Pakistan, some people are thinking this type of car is a better option. But despite these positives, this technology is struggling to become a viable player in Pakistan’s controlled market.

No bang for your buck

The government has put the squeeze on importing used cars. It now says that you can’t get them if they are more than three years old. It used to allow used cars that were up to five years old until the end of 2012.

According to official car import numbers, over 1,140 Toyota Prius were imported from July to October 2012 compared to less than a thousand units before the end of the previous financial year. But then the official policy changed.

Honda Insight Hybrid

“[Newer] used cars mean a higher price,” explains Salman Hameed, a hybrid dealer in Lahore. He was getting up to 70 cars until the government changed the rules. Now it’s just 20 and he thinks demand could sink further. This means that dealers like Hameed who used to be getting the 2007 models are now forced to get the 2010 ones. This means an average price difference of Rs400,000. “But it is also a newer car,” he says.

All of this would change if the government gave local manufacturers incentives. If not, people like Pakwheels CEO Raza Saeed feel that the market for hybrids will remain small because the choices are so limited. If local companies made the car, it would be cheaper and hybrids could possibly become the norm.

Take the example of India where there has been a concerted push by the government. Today, one of India’s leading local manufacturers, Tata, produces the Nano hybrid which is known as the world’s cheapest hybrid at a mere 100,000 Indian rupees.

On the other hand, in Pakistan, the government has deliberately kept a tight fist to protect the existing local car industry. The Federal Board of Revenue, which is the brains behind the import policy on hybrids, openly says it will not be opening the doors on this new technology because local manufacturers will be affected. FBR spokesman Israr Rauf admitted the previous government hadn’t done much to encourage it either. “We have to wait for the next budget first,” he says. “Even then, it is unlikely of the government to take any drastic steps to push local manufacturers to incorporate greener cars.” There is no roadmap on how to factor it into the budget either.

Honda Civic Hybrid

“The real issue today is that mainstream parties we have spoken to have little clarity on the long-term role of hybrid automobiles,” says Syed Umair, the head of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce’s environmental committee. It is certain though, that globally petrol-only cars will go, he adds.

Features and what to look out for

Hybrids are popular because people think they offer better mileage. Honda’s hybrid switches between the battery and fuel at a speed of up to 40km. The Prius operates dually at a speed of up to 120km, says dealer Hameed.

The ordinary hybrid car will likely have automatic windows, steering, a push start button, a remote key and a CD player. Others feature bluetooth, a GPS system, a back-view camera, an auto parking system, a hard-disk drive and a mini-disc player. Some more modified versions have two additional features of cruise control, a keyless entry by touching the car door and a keyless start option.

The deal-breaker is that these used cars don’t come with insurance. For some models the battery needs be changed after 200,000km which is about five years. When you buy one, advises Hameed, make sure you check that the battery is original and the synergy driver has not been tampered with.

Another concern is whether we have enough mechanics versed in this technology to repair them. But as has been proven in the past, when the market grows, eventually the manpower catches up. For now, it seems though that unless the government moves, hybrids will be stuck in the back seat.

Hybrids available in Pakistan

Cars                         Price                     Models

Toyota Prius            Rs1.4m-Rs3.2m          2003-2011

Honda Civic             Rs1.6m-Rs1.8m          2006-2010

Honda Insight         Rs1.7m                         2008-2010

Porsche Cayenne     Rs17m                          2013

All the cars mentioned above are imported

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, May 19th, 2013.

Like Express Tribune Magazine on Facebook to stay informed and join the conversation.

Correction: An earlier version of the article incorrectly stated that the Cayenne gives 13.75 kilometres a litre. The error has been rectified.

 

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (9)

  • Shaami
    May 19, 2013 - 1:26PM

    I hope someone will introduce Hybrid Rickshaws and Motorbikes for the general public as the above cars are only affordable by less than 2-3 percent of the total population of Pakistan and they are more like a Status symbol rather than being bought for any Environmental concerns..

    Recommend

  • Abdullah
    May 19, 2013 - 3:29PM

    @shaami.except porsche i dont think pirus civic and insightare status symbols.

    Recommend

  • U-Turn
    May 19, 2013 - 11:19PM

    “Porsche Pakistan CEO Abuzar Bukhari brought in the first luxury hybrid, the Cayenne, which gives 13.75 kilometres a litre”

    This is wrong information. The Cayenne ‘consumes’ 13.76 litres of petrol for every 100 KMs.
    13.75l/100km is not the same as 13.75km/l.

    The authors need to look into this mistake.

    Recommend

  • A.M.Khan
    May 20, 2013 - 12:16AM

    @Shaami: do you even understand the article?

    Recommend

  • syedahmed
    May 20, 2013 - 4:39AM

    there is already a hybrid motorcycle, its called a bicycle

    Recommend

  • syedahmed
    May 20, 2013 - 4:41AM

    No clean running water, no real medicines or meat, no electricity, no schools, no teachers, no education, no future, but we have motorways, nukes, f16s and now hybrid porsches, shows our priority’s as a nation. Just a nation of show offs. This does not suit us yet, first develop your country, end terrorism, then it will look good,

    Recommend

  • Haroon Rashid
    May 21, 2013 - 12:37AM

    This is an excellent over view of the hybrid automobile turned a preference and trendy life style in Pakistan which is encouraging, from Mr. Sher Khan/Sonia Malik with support on industry trends from Mr. Raza Saeed of Pak Wheels.
    I’m the initiator of the Smart Car of the ITS (Intelligent Transport System) Standards standardised and proclaimed at Geneva on 17May, 2013. Hybrid cars as Prius, Tata Nano Hybrid, and Porsche Cayenne are worth mentioning which follows the ITS standards on road safety.
    I was invited at the inaugural ceremony of Nano car in New Delhi inaugural by Tata, and today it has come up with a hybrid, with compliance of ITS standards on road safety.
    Pakistan automobile manufacturer Association has no mention of standards in automobile/car manufacturing in Pakistan. This is the primary reason for the worst quality car produced in Pakistan at the highest prices than our neighbouring India.
    With the Formula 1 races now coming to Asia as Asians buys most cars in the world today. Please visit blog http://www.its-standards.blogspot.com
    Reference to technology in automobiles which you will know the trend of automobile industry today that IBM has taken major equity of Ford Motor Company.
    We still have time to come up with a standardisation standards with international standardisation global company as JD Powers, or VW Germany, and follow pattern of Nano in India on hybrid.

    Recommend

  • May 21, 2013 - 6:15PM

    “For some models the battery needs be changed after 200,000km which is about five years”

    Is this a joke? in a country like Pakistan, even 50K miles would be a lot in 5 years, keep aside 200K

    Recommend

  • A. Khan
    May 23, 2013 - 2:29PM

    ” consumes 13.76 litres of petrol for every 100 kilometres…this is an SUV giving you better road mileage than a much smaller non-hybrid 1300cc or 1000cc car’

    This statement is wholly incorrect. A non-hybrid 1300 or 1000cc car should give you around 6-7 litres/100km. If it gives a higher mileage than that, you should take it to the mechanic.

    Recommend

More in Business