The Obsessive Desire of Local Assemblers to be “The First”

You may have noticed something recently that is typical throughout most new car launch campaigns in Pakistan: the overabundance of the word “First.”

When Sazgar launched the Haval H6 hybrid in Pakistan, it touted the vehicle as Pakistan’s first locally assembled hybrid vehicle, and rightly so. But Indus Motor Company (IMC) was also labeling their Toyota Corolla Cross as the country’s first locally produced hybrid car even before the launch. However, they were thoroughly reminded that it was the Haval H6 that truly became the first locally assembled HEV (hybrid electric vehicle) in Pakistan.

SantaFe Pakistan 01

Hyundai then introduced the new Santa Fe, another hybrid SUV in our market, but since Haval was already the first to introduce a locally assembled HEV, Hyundai-Nishat marketed their offering as the country’s first locally assembled “7-seater hybrid” SUV. This was followed by the recent unveiling of the locally assembled Corolla Cross, and during the line-off ceremony and the press material, the company touted it as the first locally assembled “1.8L hybrid” vehicle. Bear in mind that the Haval H6 HEV has a 1.5L engine while the Hyundai Santa Fe has a 1.6L unit under the hood, obviously both being hybrids are paired to an electric motor.

CorollaCross local 1

The obsession with being the first just doesn’t end here. When Changan exported a batch of Oshan X7 CUVs, the company said it became the first automaker in Pakistan to achieve batch exports. Similarly, when IMC exported Fortuner carpets to Toyota Egypt, it claimed to have become the first-ever automaker to open gates to the global supply chain.

oshan export 2

Going back further, DFSK launched the Glory 580 Pro in December 2020 touted as the first locally assembled intelligent vehicle in Pakistan to come equipped with voice command functions. Interestingly, Proton began assembling the X70 locally in January 2022, more than a year after it was first unveiled, and they too touted it as the first intelligent SUV to be assembled in Pakistan.


Don’t become bored just yet because there are many more first cases in our market. Regal Automobiles recently launched the Seres 3 EV which they promote as Pakistan’s first locally assembled electric SUV. Bear in mind MG has already introduced a couple of EV offerings but they come as CBU imported units.

Peugeot2008 launch cover

When Lucky Motor Company (LMC) introduced the Peugeot 2008 crossover in Pakistan, the company CEO Asif Rizvi speaking at the launch event said his company was set to change the automotive landscape of Pakistan by introducing the first locally assembled European brand in the country. Similarly, when LMC introduced the Kia Sorento, it was labeled as the first locally assembled vehicle in Pakistan to have 6 airbags as standard, and the first locally assembled vehicle to have a V6 engine option under its hood.

In 2019, when Pak Suzuki launched the 8th gen Alto as a replacement for the 30-year-old Mehran, it became the first locally assembled 660cc kei car in Pakistan. Going further back into the past, when United introduced the Bravo hatchback in 2018 it claimed it as the first Pakistani car brand, disregarding the fact that Adam Revo and Proficient were already among the celebrated attempts to launch Pakistan’s first homegrown vehicle brands.

And there are countless other instances where Pakistan’s auto industry was fortunate to receive a first-of-its-kind vehicle. To conclude, let us draw attention to the fact that the Proton Saga in Pakistan is the first and only vehicle of the modern era to be fitted with hydraulic power steering.

Saga test drive

From the looks of it, there will always be a first whenever an automaker attempts to bring a new product to Pakistan. Perhaps it’s about time we stop complaining and remain happy in welcoming the first, even when more than 70% of new cars introduced in Pakistan are globally retired models.

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