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Pak Suzuki marks reentry in auto sector

KARACHI: Sensing a growing market in the country, Pak Suzuki Motor Company Limited has launched the automatic transmission variant of Suzuki Cultus, around seven months after unveiling the manual version of the vehicle. The automatic gear transmission (AGS) version is priced at Rs1.528 million. The price tag on the low-end manual transmission variant, called the Cultus VXR, is Rs1.25 million. The Cultus VXL, which has a few add-ons but also consists of a manual transmission, is priced at Rs1.391 million.

The launch of an automatic model after a gap of seven months shows that the company is now confident of increasing market share for the new Cultus. The vehicle, originally named Celerio but rebranded for the Pakistani market, has managed a reasonable response in its first few months, conveyed company officials to The Express Tribune earlier in September 2017. The launch comes at a time when Pakistan’s auto sector is seeing the entry of new assemblers/manufacturers on the back of an open auto policy. The confidence in the sector also stems from hefty import duties placed on used cars, which has given local players an added advantage.

Additionally, to tackle a growing trade deficit, Pakistan also imposed fresh regulatory duty on luxury items including vehicles. Analysts believe this could help local car assemblers because at least some buyers of imported used cars are likely to switch to local cars. Out of the three local car assemblers, Pak Suzuki – the only company that produces below 1,300cc vehicles in Pakistan – is best placed to snatch that market. Up to 80% used cars Pakistan imports fall in the category of small cars that have an engine capacity of 1,000cc or less. Due to better macroeconomic numbers and higher car financing, local car sales have been growing steadily for the last few years.

Moreover, new car companies are setting up their plants in Pakistan after the new five-year auto policy 2016-21. The company also launched other products in an event in Islamabad — the Mega Carry, a 1,500cc commercial vehicle, and motorcycles, GR150 and GSXR600.