KARACHI: A leading Japanese car assembler discontinued booking of Suzuki Mehran, Bolan and Alto (CNG variants) from Feb 11, 2012.Pak-Suzuki Motor Company Limited (PSMCL), whose 80 per cent production used to comprise CNG fitted vehicles, has asked its authorised dealers to provide details of any orders in the pipeline by Feb 15.
The company had suspended procurement of kits from importers and a leading manufacturer in the middle of January. The company is consuming available imported stocks or those were under import before government's ban on import of CNG kits and cylinders.
An official of the company said that the decision was taken by the firm on Feb 11 after finishing available stocks. The company enjoys over 50 per cent market share in total vehicle sale in Pakistan. The PSMCL official said that consumers, who used to rely on factory fitted CNG vehicle, would now feel the pinch after the discontinuation in booking of economy segment cars, like CNG Mehran, Bolan and Alto.
“Sale of cars may initially come down by 10 to 20 per cent but in the coming months sales may dip by 30-40 per cent,” the official anticipated, adding that quality conscious people would face problems in getting kits and cylinders from conversion centres in the open market. Mehran, Alto and Bolan (excluding CNG kits and cylinders) will now cost Rs40,000-50,000 less but consumers will have make efforts to get quality kits and cylinders in open market as black-marketing of kits and cylinders has already started.
The price of 50kg gas cylinder with kit is now tagged at Rs37,000-38,500 as compared to Rs24,000-27,000 prevailing ahead of government's ban. A conversion centre staffer said that his work is going on as the market is facing shortage of cylinders mainly after the ban.
Those who have kits and cylinders are charging higher rates.
Conversion centres claim that they are installing government-approved CNG kits and cylinders.
A kit importer said that the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) and HDIP must implement their regulatory framework to improve CNG conversions through licenced and authorised centres to ensure pubic safety.
He demanded lifting of ban on car assemblers' CNG conversions in order to provide safe, economically attractive fuel option to middle income group. Pak-Suzuki Motors has also initiated a campaign for CNG cylinder testing service and various authorized dealers are charging Rs1,500-2,500 for this purpose from customers.
The dealers are taking gas cylinders from customers on a one week promise for verifying cylinders from Hydro Carbon Development Institute of Pakistan (HDIP) besides assuring that they would get a safety-approved certificate.
As per HDIP law, CNG cylinder needs to be tested after every five years for safety purposes. There is only one HDIP centre in Karachi to provide safety certificate to CNG cylinders.
Pak Suzuki's total vehicle production surged to 56,744 units in July-January 2011-2012 as compared to 47,153 units in the same period of last fiscal year.
Meanwhile, makers of Toyota Corolla and Daihatsu Cuore vehicles have not yet discontinued booking of CNG-fitted vehicles.
An official spokesperson for Indus Motors Ltd (IMC), Ali Asghar Jamali, told Dawn that the company was taking orders of CNG vehicles (Toyota Corolla Xli, GLi and Daihatsu Cuore) due to some stocks of cylinders and kits in its hand. However, he felt that government's decision would have a negative impact on sales volume of car assemblers.