Back from the dead is perhaps the scariest thing to imagine, whether you are watching a horror movie or reading a haunted story or novel. Such a scenario is enough to make every hair on your body stand up.
But being an auto consumer in Pakistan this is one of the most common scenarios we deal with. And for the majority of us, it’s no longer frightening to see cars return from the dead years after they got retired in the rest of the world, just to be introduced as brand-new automobiles in our country and promoted with fancy terms like “all-new”, “cutting-edge technology” and an outrageous price tag. The worst part is that they are then dragged out for several more years without going through any significant change or improvement.
With the likes of Daihatsu Cuore, Suzuki Khyber, United Alpha, Kia Picanto, Kia Sorento, Hyundai Elantra, Suzuki Kizashi as well as the 6th generation Honda City, to name a few, we have seen quite a few cars that came back from the dead. And in July 2023, the Back from the Dead globally retired 6th gen City that was launched here in July 2021 has officially become 2 more years old.
Pakistan was once among the very first markets to receive a newer generation model of Honda City. The City SX8 (Hyper-16) was launched in Pakistan in January 1997 after having made its debut just 8 months ago in April 1996. Then the 4th generation City (iDSI) debuted at the Bangkok International Motor Show in November 2002 and was introduced in Pakistan after only 9 months in August 2003. The 5th generation City (iVTEC) was unveiled in Thailand in September 2008 and was launched here just 4 months later in January 2009. But from there on, since Suzuki Liana was out of the race already and the City had literally no competition in the segment, Honda dragged the 5th gen model for a prolonged period of time– over 12 years to be precise, despite the fact that it was already replaced by 6th generation elsewhere in 2014.
Finally in July 2021 after a lot of criticism, Honda Atlas finally replaced the 5th gen City but instead of the latest 7th gen model, introduced the 6th generation City in Pakistan which became yet another addition to the list of globally discontinued models in the country. The 6th gen Honda City made its ‘debut’ in our market almost 20 months after the global unveiling of 7th Gen City sedan in Thailand. Originally, the 6th gen City made its debut back in April 2014, received a facelift in 2017, and was replaced by the 7th-generation model in November 2019. So technically, Pakistan embraced the 6th gen City after 7.3 years, and more importantly 1.8 years after it was replaced by the current 7th gen model.
The 7th gen Honda City is already more than 3.5 years old now and has received a facelift in India and Thailand already, while the rest of the markets will follow suit soon. Honda Atlas in Pakistan which offers the latest 11th-gen Honda Civic and new 3rd-gen Honda HR-V (both placed in a high price range) has its own reasons to sell the obsolete 1st-gen BR-V and 6th-gen City, the two volume-sellers in its lineup.
But then there is a long list of cars that were introduced here a bit late with their corresponding model still available in other parts of the world but failed to catch up and are being dragged for no reason converting them into obsolete vehicles. Examples of such cars include the 11th Gen Toyota Corolla, Toyota Yaris, Honda BR-V, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Suzuki Bolan/ Ravi, Suzuki Wagon R, Suzuki Cultus, and Isuzu D-Max to name a few.
In fact, more than 70% of new locally assembled cars currently on sale in Pakistan are globally obsolete models. So why do we always get to see cars coming back from the dead in Pakistan? It’s simply because there are absolutely no government regulations on the auto sector that defines progress or are intended to take the industry forward.
We have 40+ years old Suzuki Bolan & Ravi still qualified to be sold in the country. There are no safety regulations, we still officially adhere to Euro-2 the standard which became globally obsolete 23 years ago, and there are no fuel efficiency standards either. Here automakers can even launch 20+ years old cars and can still get away with it. Pakistan is like a goldmine for automakers to make good use of their discarded molds & jigs to keep minting money without any innovation from something that became useless in the rest of the world.
And even when there are 70% of obsolete automobiles for sale, automakers may still choose to launch brand-new models in Pakistan if they believe they can generate thick profits. Case in point, new Honda Civic, HR-V, or the upcoming Toyota Corolla Cross. We will continue to see outdated automobiles being marketed in Pakistan under the guise of being new unless there is a significant change in regulations that forcefully demand automakers to abide by safety, emission, and fuel efficiency parameters.
To see our never-ending coverage of the “obsolete” topic, don’t forget to check our previous articles.
A computer animation professional with over 23 years of industry experience having served in leading organizations, TV channels & production facilities in Pakistan. An avid car enthusiast and petrolhead with an affection to deliver quality content to help shape opinions. Formerly written for PakWheels as well as major publications including Dawn. Founder of CarSpiritPK.com