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Local cars versus imports

Updated Jul 12, 2013 07:29am

THIS is in response to a number of appeals in the press by the Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association (PAMA). The PAMA’s antics show that, beyond any doubt, it does not care at all about what the ordinary Pakistani customer wants.

It has only worked to protect the monopoly formed by three major automobile assemblers in Pakistan. If it had any interest in what the customer requires in a vehicle that he buys with his hard-earned money, it would have encouraged the very same assemblers it supports to improve their product quality rather than getting the prices of imported vehicles out of the common man’s reach.

In one of its ‘appeals’ (read: whines), a comparison was shown between a secondhand imported car against a so-called brand new Pakistani-assembled car. The PAMA compared the resale value, fuel compatibility and availability of spare parts within that appeal advertisement.

However, the PAMA should also have compared the build quality, crash test results (if any are held by any local assembler), safety features offered and any additional features offered in a local car as compared to a secondhand import.

But that would only have revealed how the local car assemblers fleece every customer in the name of ‘own’ money, jacked up prices and producing substandard quality cars, so it is understandable why such comparisons were not made.

It is also interesting to note the PAMA has hardly, if ever, encouraged new automobile manufacturers to enter the Pakistani market since any new entrants would probably force the local car assemblers to reduce prices or improve quality.

One can only wonder and guess as to what ‘benefits’ do the concerned government officials and the PAMA representatives get in return for protecting the interests of the major local car assemblers.

It should be a matter of shame for those who are granting unreasonable protection to the local car assemblers at the cost of ordinary Pakistani citizens.

The PAMA should now openly state that it does not care about what any Pakistani customer wants in his vehicle and that it only cares about making the highest profits at the cost of the customers who have no choice in what they want to buy other than what the local assemblers have to offer them. The new government, if it has any interests of the people who voted them to power at heart, should cease to unreasonably protect the local car assemblers as has been the practice in the past. Otherwise, it would end up doing just what the previous government did.

The government should have an independent and reputable audit firm conduct a cost audit at every local car assembler. The truth about the costs and margins on every car will come out in the open in that manner.

MUHID ZAKARIA Karachi