The Government of Pakistan has been taking a significant interest in the automotive industry, gauging activities, making policies that favor the industry, and intervening as and when needed.
This has resulted in the development of the Automotive Development Policy (ADP) 2016-21 that enables a large influx of new carmakers in Pakistan, and the development of the Automotive Industry Development and Export Plan (AIDEP) 2021-26 that has allowed several tax-and-duty reliefs to the automakers to facilitate the local manufacturing of vehicles.
These initiatives have proferred several changes in the local car auto industry, that have been welcomed by the public. However, there are still some persistent issues that bother car buyers, one of which is the poor build quality of vehicles.
There have been reports of several vehicles from various automakers having poor build quality. Issues such as panel gaps, missing trim pieces, and malfunctioning electrical or mechanical parts are perilously frequent now.
The 10th generation Honda Civic was launched in Pakistan in 2016. Despite high expectations, its initial impression was not favorable because of its questionable build quality.
Exhibit # 1: Photos of panel gaps on the 10th gen Honda Civic
The previous Civic units from the 10th generation had several panel gaps around the exterior, and they had resulted in a lot of negative attention for the company. Many photographs showing the panel gaps on the Civic units surfaced on the Internet, making it a concern for the general public.
Likewise, photographs and a video of the recently launched 6th generation Honda City in which the brand new vehicle is missing important pieces of panels and trim pieces also went viral on the Internet. The missing pieces make the vehicles highly susceptible to corrosion and condensation near the electrical components.
Exhibit # 2: Photos of missing panels and trim-pieces on the 6th gen Honda City
Car buyers are furious after seeing these images and videos of the new City, as it is already a generation old and is also the most expensive vehicle in its class.
There have been similar reports about Changan Alsvin’s customers complaining about the cheap paint quality and poorly fitted panels in and around the vehicle. However, these issues were reportedly quickly addressed by the company, and it offered fresh and flawless, free-of-cost units to the customers in exchange for the faulty ones.
Even the ever-reliable Toyota has been slacking in build quality as the earlier units of Toyota Yaris had issues such as poor quality trunk lining and mat, exposed wiring in the engine bay, and badly fitted panels.
Some dark-colored units of the Yaris have been observed lacking door-sash strips, which, despite being a minor item, is an important cosmetic part of a door frame. The strips can be found on bright-colored vehicles, but are missing from the dark-colored ones.
Exhibit # 3: Dark-colored Toyota Yaris missing door sash strips
A customer who asked for an explanation for the exposed door frames on the dark-colored vehicle was reportedly told by the authorized Toyota 3S dealership that “the body-colored door frames are a new cosmetic feature” while the bright-colored vehicles do not share it.
There have also been reports that the dark-colored units of other Toyota vehicles, including the incredibly expensive Toyota Fortuner, are also being sold without the door sash strips, which is a shocking display of cost-cutting antics by the biggest and most profitable car companies in the country.
Another important issue pertaining to quality control is malfunctioning airbags in various vehicles from different companies. The media and the general public had raised the issue earlier this year. While it was seemingly addressed by the automakers, there have been no recent details of failed airbags.
Most quality control issues are observed in locally assembled vehicles, whereas the Completely Built-Up (CBU) units of the same vehicles being assembled locally have decent build quality.
According to a reliable source from the industry, Toyota Indus Motor Company (IMC), Honda Atlas Cars Limited (HACL), and Pak Suzuki Motor Company (PSMC) are the few carmakers in Pakistan with a parts localization rate of over 50 percent. He said that these companies use a majority of locally manufactured parts and panels in the vehicles.
The source added that Kia Luck Motor (KLM) is next in line to achieve an over 50 percent localization rate as it has begun Pakistan-based manufacturing of some of its essential components.
Hyundai Nishat is currently the only automaker in the market that is producing vehicles of impeccable build quality. The source explained that this is because the automaker is using non-localized Completely Knocked Down (CKD) kits to assemble its vehicles.
However, he refused to comment on whether the vehicles with non-localized parts are more reliable than those with localized parts. Based on common observation, it is safe to say that the CBU vehicles and non-localized CKD vehicles have proven to be slightly better in quality.
Parts localization is a highly beneficial strategy that allows automakers to reduce production costs and prices of their vehicles, and also provides work opportunities for local car experts.
However, localization is of no use to a market if it does not benefit the people. Therefore, the government must ensure automakers’ compliance with certain quality standards while promoting and enabling 100 percent localization of vehicle parts in the country.
Furthermore, to expedite the complete local manufacturing of vehicles in Pakistan in terms of quality assurance, the government should formulate a policy to favor parts manufacturing companies as well.
Cars use various mechanical and electrical components that are sourced to them by different auto-parts manufacturers such as Denso, Aisin, NGK, Takata, Bosch, etc. By aiding such companies in the establishment of their manufacturing facilities in Pakistan, the government will be able to create a healthy ecosystem for the automotive industry to grow and offer better quality products to the masses.