Why No 12th gen Toyota Corolla in Pakistan but Corolla Cross Instead?

Toyota Corolla has been the most popular sedan in our market for over 50 years. Almost every generation of Corolla was a huge success in Pakistan, and the trend continued after 1993, when locally assembled Corolla models began rolling off the Indus Motor Company (IMC) assembly lines.

Corolla outpaced Suzuki Mehran in 2009 to become the highest-selling sedan in Pakistan and remained so for over a decade. After the introduction of the 660cc Suzuki Alto in 2019, the crown went back to Suzuki but the Toyota Corolla remains the bestselling sedan in the country, if not the highest-selling car.

Interestingly, the current generation of Corolla that we get here became globally obsolete in November 2018 with the introduction of the 12th generation model. However, in Pakistan, IMC still drags the 11th gen Corolla which is about to mark a decade of presence in our market, not to mention it is already the longest-selling Corolla model stretching past the 7th gen Corolla which was assembled in Pakistan for nearly 9 years (between 1993 and 2002).

Related: 11th Gen Toyota Corolla Enters 10th Year of Production in Pakistan

Since the last few months, there has been a lot of buzz regarding IMC’s plans to launch the locally assembled Corolla Cross hybrid. Interestingly the said vehicle (which was previously available as CBU) is based on the 12th gen Corolla, which IMC is reluctant to introduce despite the model nearing the end of its production run in global markets. The next-generation Corolla sedan is expected to make its debut in 2024.

IMC is still dragging the 11th gen Corolla in Pakistan for nearly a decade

So, why is the company that is yet to consider the 12th Generation Corolla sedan for our market planning to introduce it in a Cross guise that will be priced significantly higher than the regular Corolla, which is known to be the country’s bestselling sedan? Let’s try to look at the scenario from an analytical point of view.

20230113 corolla cross
Toyota Corolla Cross at the 2023 Singapore Motor Show

IMC first revealed its plans to assemble hybrid vehicles in Pakistan in September 2021. This came on the back of the relaxation of various taxes and duties announced by the government in the Finance Act 2021, in order to encourage the local production of environment-friendly vehicles in Pakistan. Under the Finance Act 2021, only a 4% customs duty on the import of parts for hybrid vehicles is applicable, while only a 3% customs duty is imposed on the import of parts for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

Related: The Absurd Price Growth Path of Toyota Corolla in Pakistan

Remember, the 9th gen, 10th gen, and 11th gen Toyota Corolla models were all launched in Pakistan within months after making their global debut. But that’s certainly not the case with the 12th gen model which debuted way back in November 2018 and is yet to be launched in our country. The primary reason for this delay is the fact that the 12th generation Corolla is built on Toyota’s modular TNGA platform which requires massive upgrades to be incorporated into the regular assembly lines. That means a lot of investment.

corolla 12

Obviously, IMC couldn’t build the 12th-generation TNGA Corolla at its existing assembly lines & needed to invest a good amount of money to upgrade its current assembly setup. But in order to make way for the 12th gen Corolla sedan and to set up the TNGA assembly lines in its plant, the ideal move was to introduce a hybrid, that’s essentially a 12th gen Corolla with the same platform and even a ditto interior as the sedan sibling but just a different bodyshell.

CorollaCross pk 06

It’s like hitting a bird with two stones because the hybrid Corolla Cross will benefit from tax breaks on parts imports and assembly line setup. While it will pave the way for a locally assembled 12th-generation Corolla sedan. The issue is that IMC cannot launch the sedan before the Corolla Cross hybrid–obviously.

corolla cross 02

That’s probably the main reason why Toyota decided to begin its hybrid operations in Pakistan with the Corolla Cross when it’s neither the best nor the most fuel-efficient hybrid out there instead of any smaller & more practical hybrid car. Bear in mind Toyota hybrids are considered the most economical with 7 out of the top 10 most fuel-efficient options in Japan. Interestingly, the Corolla Cross does not even make the list in terms of fuel efficiency.

Related: IMC- Optimism or Empty Rhetoric?

However, the economic turmoil has spoiled the plans for most auto assemblers in Pakistan including Toyota. The Corolla Cross was supposed to be formally launched by mid-2023, as per initial reports but now it is being said that the launch will take place by year-end. However, with dwindling sales and non-production days, it is unclear whether IMC will formally introduce the locally assembled Corolla Cross this year or “wait” until 2024 for things to settle.

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