Car buying options in Pakistan are very limited compared to other regional markets. However in recent years, due to currency depreciation & add duties and taxes imposed by the government, prices of these limited number of cars have gone well past the reach of common buyers.
Recently, the crossover SUVs are becoming more & more popular in our market. With sedans like Honda Civic and Corolla Altis Grande reaching the PKR 4.0 million territory, the SUVs such as Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson have started to look a lot more attractive. Furthermore newcomers as well as existing automakers are going to tap the crossover SUV segment with new offerings as more products are currently in the pipelines that are expected to be introduced in our market in near future.
Surprisingly however, there is not much for the common buyers in shape of low-budget hatchbacks or sedans. The cheapest mass-produced car available is the Suzuki Alto VX which is priced at PKR 11.98 lac rendering an almost Rs 1 million gap from an entry level 2-wheeler. Between that there is literally nothing for the vast majority of buyers which are dependent on purchasing 10+ years old used cars from the market.
If we look across the border, there is plenty to choose from when it comes to small hatchbacks that serves good for first-time car buyers or those with a tighter budget. Thanks to a much higher localization rate and competition friendly environment, there are more than a dozen models for the buyers which cost less than INR 5.0 lac (equivalent to PKR 11.2 lac) in the Indian market. These include:
Renault Kwid is a popular entry-level crossover in India. Available in 2 engines & 2 transmission options the Kwid is priced from INR 3.08 lac for the base variant and not just this, 6 out of 13 available variants are priced under INR 5.0 lac.
Maruti Suzuki Alto which recently crossed the 40 lac unit sales milestone and has remained the bestselling car in the Indian market for over 16 consecutive years is priced from INR 3.0 lac. There are 8 trims available with 800cc Alto all of which cost under the 5.0 lac mark with the priciest LXi CNG trim reaching as high as INR 4.37 lac.
Suzuki Wagon R
Wagon R in India, which is the 3rd generation model, is available from INR 4.51 lac. Out of 14 available trims, 3 of the 1.0L hatchback are priced under INR 5.0 lac.
Celerio is another popular Suzuki hatchback in India which is priced from INR 4.46 lac. Four out of 12 available versions of the 1.0L hatchback are priced under the discussed bracket.
The 1.2L homegrown Tata Tiago hatchback is priced from INR 4.68 lac and is the only version below the 5.0 lac mark since the rest of the 7 variants are priced higher with the most expensive XZA+ Dual Tone reaching as high as INR 6.72 lac.
Hyundai Santro which was resurrected in late 2018 is another popular option for car buyers in limited budget. The 1.0L hatchback is priced from INR 4.58 lac with 2 out of 9 versions fitting within our discussed price barrier.
The S-Presso that made its debut in September last year is priced from INR 3.71 lac. There are 14 trims available with Suzuki S-Presso, 12 of which are priced under INR 5.0 lac.
Suzuki Ignis with 1.2L engine is supposed to be a little pricier than the options discussed here, but surprisingly the base variant is priced at INR 4.90 lac with the remaining 6 variants priced above the 5.0 lac mark, the most expensive of which cost INR 7.28 lac.
The 1.2L Suzuki Eeco van has 4 trims, all of which are priced under 5.0 lac. The base version cost INR 3.82 lac whereas the top-spec version cost INR 4.96 lac.
Datsun Redi-Go is currently the cheapest car on sale in India, and is probably the cheapest of the world too in the absence of Tata Nano which went out of production in 2018. Available in 2 engines– 0.8L & 1.0L and 6 variants, the Redi-Go is priced from INR 2.83 lac and goes as high as INR 4.77 lac.
The 1.2L Datsun Go hatchback is available in 7 variants, 2 of which are priced under 5.0 lac with base model starting from INR 3.99 lac.
The 5+2 seat Datsun Go+ MPV is priced from INR 4.20 lac, the rest of the 5 variants are priced above the discussed mark with most expensive version reaching as high as INR 6.90 lac.
Suzuki Celerio X
The last one to qualify for the list is Suzuki Celerio X which is the crossover inspired version of the regular Celerio. The Celerio X is priced from INR 4.95 lac with rest of the 7 variants priced above the 5.0 lac mark with top-spec version going as high as INR 5.72 lac.
But this just doesn’t end here as there is a lot more to choose between INR 5.0 to 6.0 lac bracket with options including 4th gen Suzuki Swift hatchback, Tata Altroz hatchback, Renult Triber MPV, Suzuki Baleno hatchback, Maruti Suzuki Dzire sedan, Hyundai Grand i10 Nios hatchback, Hyundai Aura sedan, Volkswagen Polo hatchback, Tata Tigor sedan, Mahindra KUV100 crossover, Ford Figo hatchback and Ford Freestyle crossover etc.
INR 5.0 lac converts into PKR 11.2 lac and ironically there is not a single car available in our market that comes under this price range. The likes United Bravo and Price Pearl which are not even sold anywhere else cost more than this, as well as the 40+ years old stripped-to-the-bone Suzuki Bolan & the Alto VX which is deprived of AC.
The largely populated middle class of Pakistan is forced to buy motorcycles, which are sold well above 1 million units a year. In the absence of sophisticated public transport, families can be seen carrying 4-5 people (including children) on a motorcycle risking their lives just to go from point A to B whereas the other option is to buy old busted cars from the market paying PKR 250,000 to even PKR 500,000 depending on the model & condition.
However since profit margins on smaller cars are wafer thin, most automakers are reluctant to tap this segment. Furthermore due to low localization in case of cars, prices of automobiles (4-wheelers) are more vulnerable to forex fluctuations compared to motorcycles, which in case of 70cc are almost fully localized now.
Since we are already in the final year of Auto Policy 2016-21, government needs to rework the new policy & reduce taxes– as small amount of taxes on larger volumes ensures generating healthy revenue rather than imposing heavy taxes on an already small production volume. Furthermore ensuring proper localization will help bring the prices of cars down and will increase the sales of locally assembled vehicles.