2021 was a great year for Japanese automaker Toyota, which efficiently recovering from the COVID-19 crisis created history by beating GM (General Motors) to become the highest selling car brand of the year in USA. This is for the first time in 90 years that GM on its home turf has been slipped to the 2nd position, that too by a non-US automaker.
While GM is mainly dominant in USA– its home market, Toyota has grip in many key markets across the globe. Not to mention Toyota is already the highest selling car brand in its home market of Japan. The company also has Lexus and Daihatsu brands under its ownership.
Toyota is now the number 1 selling car brand in USA, but can it become #1 in Pakistan, which is comparatively a much smaller market and for decades, is dominated by Pak Suzuki in terms of sales numbers. Well, that’s quite possible only if the company decides to tap the small car & other segments. Interestingly Toyota has an array of quality small cars offered in the region, as well as those offered by its subsidiary Daihatsu, but its yet to launch one as a locally assembled option here. Though in the past, Indus Motor Company (IMC) the assemblers of Toyota cars in Pakistan had the 800cc Daihatsu Cuore in its local lineup, but the car was discontinued in 2012 when Euro-2 restrictions were officially put into place in our country.
Related: The Only True Competitor of Suzuki?
Toyota enjoys a dominant position in the market with its sedans. The Corolla and Yaris together enjoys an estimated 61% share of the sedan segment. In addition the IMVs including the Fortuner and Hilux also enjoys a commanding position in the respective segments. It is mainly the hatchbacks as well as crossovers & MPVs where Toyota lags behind. We believe if the following options are introduced in our market, nothing can stop Toyota from becoming the highest selling car brand in Pakistan.
As mentioned above, IMC used to sell the locally assembled Daihatsu Cuore hatchback in Pakistan between 2000 and 2012. If the company decides to re-introduce the car, bear in mind its called as Daihatsu Mira back in its home market of Japan, then it can quickly become the bestselling car in Pakistan. The Mira, just like Suzuki Alto is a 660cc kei car and by far better looking than its Suzuki rival. The car already does well here in form of used-JDM import and has all the potential to outdo the Alto (which is currently the bestselling car in Pakistan) if launched here as a local assembled option. Plus IMC can market it as Cuore, just like Suzuki did with the Celerio by labeling it as Cultus, thus attracting a larger set of buyers who trusted an already established brand name.
Daihatsu Hijet/ Atrai
While Pak Suzuki is in process of replacing the aging Ravi/ Bolan with Suzuki Every variants, IMC can introduce the Daihatsu Hijet Cargo/ Hijet Truck/ Atrai minivan to counter the move. There is a strong demand of these cars in the segment which is lonely controlled by Pak Suzuki, and has recently witnessed the addition of Changan Karvaan. With better and fuel efficient options available, people are sure going to go after the Hijet/ Atrai since these vehicles already enjoy a trusted position in our market, thanks to the JDM imports.
Toyota’s answer to the likes of Suzuki Celerio and Kia Picanto is the Agya hatchback which is touted as the cheapest Toyota in South Africa– another Right Hand Drive market like ours. The 1000cc Agya is also available in many other markets where its either sold as Toyota Wigo or Daihatsu Ayla. People were crazy after the Vitz here which came as a used import and despite without any warranty and genuine after sales support, has been ruling the hearts of Pakistani since more than 15 years. A 1000cc locally assembled Toyota hatchback such as the Agya can become a ideal option for auto consumers of our country who will obviously prefer for a brand new car over a used import.
Toyota Avanza/ Veloz
Honda BR-V is the only locally assembled 7-seat MPV that falls below PKR 4.0 million range and has become a prime choice for tour operators in the northern part of the country, as well as those with a family of 6 or more people. The Avanza/ Veloz are considered a direct competitor of BR-V and while IMC already offers the Avanza as a CBU import which is priced absurdly high due to being an import, a locally assembled option priced along that of Honda BR-V might bring Toyota some positive results in this segment.
Crossovers are becoming popular due to their higher ground clearance and an imposing presence on the roads. While most automakers are willing to bring in expensive options beyond PKR 5.0 million range, a logically priced Toyota Raize subcompact crossover that has a 1.0L turbo engine under its hood might give the likes of Kia Stonic a run for the money. Raize, which has a sister product called Daihatsu Rocky has already started to make its appearance on our roads, again thanks to the JDM imports.
By tapping more segments, Toyota can sure become the highest selling car brand in Pakistan. However besides offering more options, the company should also focus towards timely meeting the demand in the market by ensuring quicker deliveries while adhering to its production capacity. In August 2018, the company informed PSX (Pakistan Stock Exchange) about Rs 3.3 billion investment to increase its annual production capacity to around 76,000 units. It was reported that the expected increase in production will be achieved during the financial year 2020-21.
A 3d animation professional with over 20 years of industry experience having served in leading organizations & production facilities of Pakistan, an avid car enthusiast and petrolhead with an affection to deliver writings to help shape opinions. Formerly written for PakWheels as well as major publications including Dawn. Founder of CarSpiritPK.com