IMC’s Reluctance to Launch a 1000cc Toyota in Pakistan

Indus Motor Company (IMC) which was incorporated in December 1989 began rolling out the first locally assembled Toyota in Pakistan— the 7th gen Corolla sedan in May 1993. In more than 30 years, with the exception of the Yaris sedan that was introduced in March 2020, the company hasn’t introduced any other locally assembled Toyota model that slots below the Corolla.

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Between 2000 and 2012 though, IMC sold the locally assembled Cuore hatchback— an early 90s model with a mid-80s engine under its hood. The car was phased out in 2012 when Pakistan officially mandated Euro-2 emission standards and the obsolete Daihatsu Cuore wasn’t able to comply. There hasn’t been a replacement model introduced since then.

Related: The Deadly Costs of Ignoring Crash Safety in Pakistan

Despite the fact that Toyota offers a flurry of quality small cars in many other markets, the CEO of IMC Ali Asghar Jamali said “Toyota does not have expertise in small car manufacturing.” He made these remarks during the launch ceremony of the Toyota Hilux Revo and Fortuner in December 2016.

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While there is literally an endless list of small Toyota cars in Japan such as Passo, Vitz, Pixis, which remain popular here thanks to used-JDM imports, there are a lot of other options available in the other markets that weren’t envisaged to be introduced in our country. One such example is Toyota Wigo, the latest iteration of which was recently launched in the Phillippines, and Vietnam. The same vehicle is offered in the international market under various nameplates, including Perodua Axia, Toyota Agya, and Daihatsu Ayla.

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The Wigo in Vietnam comes equipped with a 1.2L three-cylinder petrol engine that generates a maximum power of 87 hp and a peak torque of 113 Nm. The drive is sent to the front wheels via a 5-speed manual or CVT gearbox depending on the variant.

2023 Daihatsu Ayla Indonesia debut 14 850x531 1

On the other hand, the Indonesian-spec version (Ayla), in addition to 1.2L, also gets a 1.0L three-cylinder unit that produces 66 hp and 89 Nm & is more suited for our market. The Daihatsu Ayla is only cosmetically different than the Toyota Wigo/ Agya.

Related: 2023 Daihatsu Ayla Launched in Indonesia

Features worth mentioning in the new Toyota Wigo include LED headlamps with DRLs, a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment unit, a reversing camera with rear parking sensors, keyless entry, auto airconditioning, dual airbags, ABS, traction control, and stability control, while the higher-spec variant gets speed-sending door locks, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.

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Even if IMC boss Jamali believes that Toyota lacks the expertise to build small cars, such as the Wigo, he may decide to look at what Daihatsu has to offer because it is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Toyota and is known to compete fiercely with Suzuki in the Japanese domestic market with an array of quality small cars.

Related: The Only True Competitor of Suzuki?

Realistically speaking, Toyota’s lack of expertise in making small cars as claimed by the IMC boss is nothing but a hollow claim. In fact, like we all know, since Suzuki has no presence in sedans (or 1300cc & above segment), Toyota as well as Honda have always remained reluctant to tap the small car segment in Pakistan.

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For the local auto industry to prosper we need to get rid of stagnation and generate healthy and true competition between players. This can happen only through proper government regulations that should formulate policies to uplift the sector as a whole, and not to benefit a few businesses. An oligopolist market with a handful of options and an unchecked capacity utilization that perfectly maintains a demand-supply gap will always leave us hovering below the 200,000-unit vehicle production mark annually, despite being the 5th most populous country in this world. Time to get out of the couch and take action?

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