Will Hyundai-Nishat Motor introduce electric cars in Pakistan?

In the budget of the fiscal year 2018-2019, the government of Pakistan proposed a number of steps to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles based on their eco-friendly credentials and the ability to reduce fuel demands for the country (which I will be covering in future articles). One of those steps was to reduce the import duty on CKD (Completely Knocked Down) units of electric vehicles to just 10% under article PCT 8703 of Pakistan Customs Tariff. This low rate of duty in comparison to conventionally motivated vehicles may make the local assembly of electric vehicles very appealing to a new entrant. In this piece, I will be talking about one of them, the likelihood of Hyundai-Nishat Motor bringing Hyundai’s electrified cars in Pakistan as locally assembled models.

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Now there might be a lot of you who think that for a country like Pakistan it is not feasible to locally produce an electric vehicle due to the complexities involved. That notion, however, is far from the reality. A typical car with an internal combustion engine has something like over 30,000 parts. Around 10,000 of them are considered as “moving parts.” An electric vehicle is much easier to assemble with the only moving parts being the electric motor, the planetary gear assembly, and suspension components. This would make them the perfect candidate for a carmaker who wants to create an impression of quality and being high-tech but wants to keep liabilities to a minimum.

It is not all good news, however. Convincing the general public to buy something totally different from what they are used to is not easy. Even if electric vehicles have the advantages of being very cheap to run, being almost maintenance free and ideal for city driving due to instant torque and zero tailpipe emissions, charging times and range are significant limiting factors in the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. Before electric cars start to make sense to people, they must be able to visualize the concept of electric cars being commonplace, and for that, the manufacturer(s) introducing electrified models should invest in the development of charging infrastructure like Dewan Motors, who is expanding Pakistan’s charging network even as we speak due to their ties with BMW.

If, let’s assume for a moment, Hyundai-Nishat thinks that electric vehicles have a place in Pakistan, they might be interested in bringing one (or more) models here. Hyundai certainly has models to offer in this segment. Here are two electric cars which the Korean automaker sells outside the shores of our country that may make it to Pakistan in the event Hyundai-Nishat brings EVs in Pakistan someday.

Hyundai Ioniq Electric:

  • Range: 280 Km
  • Power: 118 HP
  • Torque: 291 Nm
  • Efficiency: 0.10 kWh/km
  • Price (Estimate) : PKR 3 500 000 – 3 750 000

The Ioniq is Hyundai’s first step into the world of electrified vehicles and their first attempt is a really solid electric vehicle designed to go against the new Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Bolt EV, Volkswagen e-Golf, Kia Soul EV and the Tesla Model 3. The Ioniq electric is nearly identical to the Ioniq hybrid in terms of exterior styling and shape except for a few differences in the front grill. Remember the Ioniq electric has no engine to cool so a front intake is not required. Powering the Ioniq is an electric motor producing 118 HP and 291 Nm of torque, driving the front wheels. A 28 kWh lithium-Ion battery gives the Ioniq an electric range of 280 km which is similar to the e-Golf but short of the Leaf, the Bolt EV and the Tesla Model 3. The interior, like the exterior is very similar to other Hyundai models, particularly the Elantra and offers the latest and greatest in technology including adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings, blind spot monitoring and auto emergency braking. The 8-inch infotainment LCD offers both Apple Carplay and Android Auto. Overall the Ioniq is a solid vehicle however, in my opinion it would not make much commercial sense to bring a sedan-like hatchback to a market like Pakistan (or the rest of the world for that matter), in which this price class is totally dominated by crossovers and SUVs, just take a look at how the Toyota C-HR and Honda Vezel have increased in popularity in comparison to the Toyota Prius in the Pakistani market. Which brings us to the next vehicle in the list.

Hyundai Kona Electric:

  • Range: 300 Km or 470 Km
  • Power: 132 HP or 201 HP
  • Torque: 395 Nm
  • Efficiency: 0.13 kWh/km
  • Price (Estimate) : PKR 3 750 000 – 4 500 000

The Kona Electric crossover is Hyundai’s upcoming flagship electric vehicle promising a choice between 300 km or 470 km of range from a 39.2 kWh or a 64 kWh lithium-ion battery respectively. The choice of battery size also dictates the amount of power the car has to offer, 132 HP for the smaller battery and 201 HP for the larger battery. The Kona features a bold and audacious desgin in contrast to the Ioniq which goes for a more conventional look. Being a crossover, the Kona is also wearing bigger boots as compared to the Ioniq and offers a greater ride height and ground clearance and most importantly has more road presence. The Kona, like the Ioniq features an interior much like other cars in the Hyundai line-up, material and build quality is top-notch, the design is mature and the cabin is spacious because all the batteries are underneath the car and do not eat into the interior. The Kona competes with the same basic set of EVs that the Ioniq goes against and the upcoming Nissan Leaf crossover is seen as competition too. The Kona is perhaps the biggest commercial masterstroke Hyundai has played in years, in a category that is dominated by crossovers and SUVs, the Kona stands out as being bold and technically sophisticated. Since these people are generally tech savvy and are interested in new technologies, the Kona appeals to this audience. In my opinion, if the Kona is brought to Pakistan it would sell well. Keeping in mind the sales of the Honda Vezel, Toyota C-HR and BMW X1, it is apparent that the market for a 40-45 lac crossover is present. The Kona would be a welcome addition to this segment and would allure buyers who want to have something that is unique and different that is also cheaper to run. Not to mention that Hyundai will be establishing 3S dealerships and will be offering zero meter vehicles in contrast to the Vezel and C-HR which are imported as used vehicles with at least a couple thousand kilometers on the odometer. The Kona has some serious market legs and may be a worthwhile investment if brought here.

In conclusion, I would say that it is clear that some development in the electric vehicle scene in Pakistan is expected. Legislators do not make laws out of anywhere; they work off of recommendations taken from investors, manufacturers, institutions, and experts. An EV from a new entrant may already be in the works. The government has recommended a decrease in import duty of CKDs, it is very likely that the manufacturer(s) suggested such an initiative to be taken. In a few years from now, EVs may become a familiar sight on Pakistani roads, in a similar fashion to how hybrid vehicles (after the 2013-2014 budget in which their adoption was encouraged) were initially seen as fads but later, the market gained traction, and now hybrids are a very common sight on Pakistani roads. It is safe to say that the tale of electric vehicles in Pakistan has barely reached its opening chapters and it will be interesting to see how this story develops.

Let us know what you think in the comments section below. Stay tuned to PakWheels for more news and reviews.

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Automotive Journalist at PakWheels. A Level Student at Cedar College. Aspiring Theoretical Physicist. Loves Talking and Writing about Cutting-Edge Cars and Modern Technology. Former Student of Bahria College. Resident EV-Guru.