The automobile markets of Pakistan and South Africa are similar in a way that both have RHD (right-hand driven) cars. Aside from steering wheel positioning, the types of automobiles launched by automakers also align between both markets.
For example, when FAW introduced the Sirius MPV and V2 hatchback in Pakistan, it had the exact same offerings in the South African (SA) market, and more interestingly the two markets saw the exit of FAW in almost parallel fashion. Then Chery’s arrival in Pakistan and South Africa also occurred virtually simultaneously with both markets receiving the Tiggo 4 Pro and Tiggo 8 Pro models to mark the debut of the Chinese automaker.
The same is true for BAIC’s BJ40, which is sold as B40 in South Africa; both vehicles were introduced in their respective markets in late 2021. The trend continued in the case of Proton, however, the X70 SUV was launched in Pakistan in December 2020 and the Saga sedan in April 2021, but the Malaysian automaker introduced the exact same models in South Africa in September 2022. What’s more intriguing is that the Saga and X70 are offered in the exact same trim levels, but they cost very differently.
Just like in Pakistan, the Saga comes available in South Africa in 3 trim levels, Standard MT, Standard AT, and Premium AT (Ace) all powered by the same 1.3L engine and exact same specifications when it comes to features & equipment. However, in South Africa, the Saga Standard AT is priced at ZAR 199,000 (PKR 28.72 lac), Standard AT is priced at ZAR 219,900 (PKR 31.60 lac), and Premium AT (Ace) is priced at ZAR 239,900 (PKR 34.47 lac).
In Pakistan, the Proton Saga is currently priced at PKR 37.49 lac, PKR 39.49 lac, and PKR 40.99 lac for the above 3 variants respectively. This makes the Saga in Pakistan 30% more expensive than South Africa for the Standard MT variant, 25% more expensive for the Standard AT, and 19% more expensive than the Premium AT (Ace) variant.
One may argue that the taxes in both countries are responsible for such a price difference, however, when you look at the Proton X70 prices, which is ZAR 629,900 (PKR 90.52 lac) for the Executive AWD and ZAR 639,900 (PKR 91.96 lac) for the Premium 2WD in South Africa, you can see that the difference isn’t as significant as it is with the Saga. In Pakistan, the X70 Executive AWD is priced at PKR 87.99 lac which happens to be 2% cheaper than SA, and the flagship Premium 2WD is priced at PKR 92.99 lac which is only 1% expensive than the corresponding variant in the South African market.
Although the Saga is pitched as the most affordable sedan on the market and is often touted as a hatchback substitute, the massive price gap (compared to the SA market) makes one wonder that the company is actually selling it in Pakistan keeping a significantly higher profit margin.
When Proton Saga was launched in April 2021, PKR was hovering around Rs 153 against the US Dollar, and Saga was priced at: Standard MT: PKR 19.75 lac, Standard AT: PKR 21.25 lac, and Ace AT: PKR 22.25 lac. This shows that the Dollar value appreciated by 81% (as of October 2023) but the price of Proton Saga went up by 89%.
Despite this, the Proton Saga continues to be Pakistan’s most affordable sedan, but it hasn’t been able to achieve the level of success that was envisioned. Part of this has to be blamed on enormous delays in deliveries and subsequent price hikes which has made Saga almost double its value in just 2 years of its presence compared to its launch price.
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Looking at the above analysis, it is evident that there is a cushion for the company to lower the prices of Proton Saga variants in Pakistan. Perhaps bring it closer to the South African variant just like they have priced the X70. This will help the company achieve better sales and the Saga will become even more attractive to the masses. However, the most important thing is for Proton to discipline its delivery procedures, if the company cannot deliver the units on time for a modest demand, will it be able to handle a significantly higher demand if Saga prices are lowered?
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