PakSuzuki…It Is Time To Bid Farewell To Mehran

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Some 31 years ago, engineers at Suzuki Motors Japan developed the 2nd generation of Suzuki Alto, better known to us as the ‘Suzuki Mehran’. The 1st generation of Alto was actually called ‘Suzuki FX’ in our market. While globally the life span of 1st generation Alto (FX) was from 1979-1983 & the 2nd generation Alto (Mehran) is 1984-1988, in our market the FX was available from 1983-1988 while the Mehran, which appeared with an Alto badge in 1989 is still available as a ‘brand new car’ in 2015, and from the looks of it, will be available for years to come.

When the 2nd generation Alto (Mehran) arrived in our market back in 1989, it used to cost roughly around Rs. 90,000/- PKR. And like its predecessor, the Suzuki FX, was the cheapest car available in the market. With an 800cc carburetor engine under the hood and a very basic leaf-spring rear suspension setup, the car was undoubtedly one of the easiest and cheapest vehicles to maintain. It was a dream of a common man, to afford a car and Mehran provided just that. With little or no drive pleasure, zero safety and a rather uncomfortable drive, it still rules the hearts of many. However as the years kept passing by, the built quality is on a decline while the prices kept shooting up.

Also Read: Pak Suzuki Is Replacing Its Cultus With Suzuki Celerio

MehranColorWhitebIn a time when technology is at its very best, when we use smartphones, wireless broadband, maintain our bank accounts and transfer funds without having the need to go to bank, we have flat-screen LED televisions at our home, communicate via 4G mobile internet, but travel in a car with carburetor and leaf springs. In a time when cars around the world are equipped with latest tech gadgets at throwaway prices, they are environmentally friendly, consume least amount of fuel and are equipped with modern active and passive safety equipment, Mehran lacks all the above. Since it was developed during mid 80’s utilizing a very basic technology from the late 70’s, with no collision protections, no airbags and no ABS brakes, Mehran is one of the most unsafe vehicles to be produced these days. Although it has a small engine and according to people its fuel efficient, but technically it lacks 5 speed transmission and consumes more fuel than any modern engine of similar capacity.

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Today most of the people are demanding a change, and it’s quite justified as well. The Mehran since 1989 hasn’t evolved at all. In about 25 years apart from the electronic fuel injection, the only ‘technological advancements’ it received were different headlamps and bumpers, the radiator grill…and yes, 2 less air-conditioning ducts in the dashboard. Although Mehran was a very successful car of its time, in fact it still is, provided there is no competition in its class. Yet it’s extremely cheap to maintain, reliable and economical too, spare parts are dirt cheap and are available all over the country. However good things should be replaced by better things and that’s what PakSuzuki should do. But instead, a whooping price tag of PKR 625,000/- for the base VX version and PKR 748,000/- for the VXR CNG isn’t by any means justified. If you calculate the on-road price it might end up a little less than PKR 800,000/- If you are spending such a huge amount buying a Mehran and then you take a look at it and ask yourself, “Is this what my hard-earned money’s real worth is?” I am pretty sure the answer will be an absolute NO. With such a high price tag it’s no longer a “ghareeb admi ki gari” as it once use to be known as.

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Around the world the 2nd generation Alto was produced in different countries but was eventually phased out. It was no doubt one of the popular cars in various markets but the difference between price and the features offered was drastic. In India, the Maruti 800 was phased out in 2013, but it was available from just 2,78,000/- INR (PKR 4,49,000/-) up to 3.18 lac INR (PKR 5,14,000/-). A little comparison with Chinese Alto might give a better idea of how a car from mid 80’s can be modernized while still justifying the price tag. Zotye Auto, a small auto manufacturing company in China acquired Jiangnan Autos who bought the whole vehicle intellectual property rights from Changan-Suzuki joint venture enterprise. In 2010 Zotye released the TT with a price tag starting from just $2,830 (PKR 3,01,800/-) and up to $4,200 (PKR 4,48,000/-) for the fully loaded version, as opposed to the local Mehran which is roughly around $6,000. The Zotye TT boasts a totally redesigned dashboard, 4 spoke steering wheel, cup holders, digital odometer, an Mp3 player with USB input, an Efi engine, front & rear seat-belts, collapsible steering column, ABS brakes, proper rear suspension with coil springs and dampers, alloy wheels, proper retract side mirrors etc.

This is a whole lot to offer than what PakSuzuki delivers us, in much lesser amount than what we pay. By the start of next year, Mehran will be entering 27th year of its life in our market, and the improvements that Paksuzuki have made over the course of nearly 3 decades are next to nothing. With a price tag this high, they should have given at least half of the stuff offered by Zotye, even then we believe it’s time to say good bye to Mehran. The Alto is currently in its 8th generation globally, it’s high time for PakSuzuki to give Mehran a break and offer us safe and modern fuel efficient cars that are safer for the environment as well as the occupants.

Browse the gallery below to view the Chinese Alto

Usman Ansari

An automotive enthusiast associated with the animation industry since 15 years having worked with leading organizations and production facilities across Pakistan.

  • Lazy Sapper

    Yeah. Most people are demanding a change but lousy dumb f***kers working at Suzuki Pakistan are not yet ready to bring the change. A harsh spanking of their fat butts is needed to get rid of old Jugaard aka Mehran.

  • وجاہت علی

    i heard mehran, bolan & ravi are gonna be changed in 2017 & cultus may be next year!!!

  • Ahsan Ahmed

    Dont blame Suzuki. The Mehran and Cultus are still the most selling hotcakes because people diss cars like WagonR and FAW V2 and Chevorlet Joy cus “market value nae”. Problem is with the buyers, not the sellers.

    Our market sadly is full of people with no class, no sense, but only money.

  • Ezio7

    I agree i am tired of hearing this “market value nae” >.<

  • Hassan Rao

    I also agreed.

  • Dr. Aamir Liaquat Hussain

    good I agree.
    Q mobile apka hua

  • SSyar

    Ye chinise Alto wali specs agar Pak Suzuki ne bana dii tou., Mehran 10Lac ki gari hojaye gi 😀

  • Abdullah

    Pak Suzuki should realize that ONLY & ONLY if they stop manufacturing MEHRAN would their Wagon R Sales rise………….if people would have no choice then they would obviously buy SUZUKI WAGON R……….Pak Suzuki play it smart and wake up…….there are no competitors of urs……..just stop MEHRAN

  • Javvad

    I am agree with you, but we leave safety on Allah (SWT) and next say market value nae hai. Old strong cars like old Toyota Starlet, Peugeot, Daihatsu Charade etc. are not like/appreciated by the people. Therefore, spares are also expansive and sometime difficult to locate and purchase. It is the problem of values that we keep regarding standards of things/vehicles. Even it is difficult to convince fellows, contemporaries. At the end one has to listen their arguments and logic and has to go with the majority. I think if tax on old strong vehicles is reduced than making of such cars can be stopped but there may be some vested problems in doing that. It is responsibilities that institutions involved in the matter promote safety and standards and facilitate availability of parts of old cars at low price by promoting local manufacturers in this regard.

  • Visitor

    No.
    Wagon R costs much more than Mehran. The market would adjust so that: Used car prices would go up, but the people who can afford only 600,000 or so cannot pay 1,000,000 or so.

  • Guest

    It is not about being tired.
    Honda bike and Suzuki car is ready cash, you may need ready cash at any time if suddenly your father has heart attack, wife’s delivery becomes complicated, son is kidnapped for ransom, daughter faces traffic accident or kitchen accident, brother is shot at gun point for mobile phone, or you yourself may get looted of big amount of cash anytime, salary may be suspended indefinitely, or client may fail to make the payment.

    These are real problems that happen to real people in large numbers everyday. Making fun of those people would only promote resentment against you. Problem is we have no social security so people always buys those possessions which could be immediately converted into cash for lifesaving purpose.

    For me too, I would like to buy “out of market car” but never know when the need of money is coming. There is no other thing I could sell if I need the money.

  • Another guest

    We hear it every year and every year the expected year is 2 years ahead.

    For example we heard in 2007 that by 2009 they will change.
    Then in 2008 we heard that it has been pushed back to 2010.
    So on.

  • Informer

    In 2008-09 Paksuzuki worked (focus group method) to replace the Bolan with a newer version.

    The newer version would have better seats, brake booster, front wheel disc brakes, electric radiator fan, better frontal crash safety (it had a small bonnet), better heat insulation (the engine is under the seat remember) and a few other improvements.

    The market was not ready for the change. All those school van transporters, Wonder bread transporters and so-and-so transporters said that new body and chassis and technology would be faaaaiiiiilllll gadddi ay ji.

    Transporters are most difficult to deal with and if you go against their wish they would go to any level.
    Not only in Pakistan, in other countries such as Turkey etc. also transporters are equally ruthless. Therefore Paksuzuki decided not to go against the wishes of the transporters, it made no sense in spending money and effort to gain pain.

  • Guest2

    Can somebody start a business of importing this suspension and ABS &c. from China and retrofitting existing Mehran with it?

  • Another guest

    “Old strong vehicles” mentality is what Pakwheels blog is against.
    We want to talk about new strong vehicles which are better suited to the needs of the customer and the environments of Pakistan.

  • Guest

    Jiangnan TT has discontinued the TT now since many years. Even after all those upgrades and the cheapest price, it was time to go.

    Usman Ansari is continuing his effort from the old times. Good to see him on blog section. Blog section needed some quality input which he is providing.

    He has been absent for a long time from PW.

    Pakistan has always got the thoughts about policy wrong. There is no law in the world anywhere to change the model in every so many years. [Even if you go to USA, some models like some Ford vans and pickups have been running there forever. They never saw the need to bring a change to the body shape. Simply put, it is cheaper that way because shape change is cosmetic and has little merit, unless some real benefits to safety, air drag &c. may be afforded.]

    Governments influence design through regulation. Regulations for fuel economy, for occupant safety, for pedestrian safety.

    Recently in another article of Usman Ansari, comment about Nissan Sunny in Mexico, Ambassador in India, Santana in China.

    Pakistan needs to (on government basis), select something roomy from the inside, small on the outside, with major development potential, indegenize it, then continue to upgrade it every few years with newer but simple to service & maintain technology. Also, it is known that in poor countries, people keep a car for longer time and the infrastructure is not better, therefore cars should have strong chassis. Not like Mehran which cannot take a beating on the battered roads and will lose its camber, caster and xyz all in but a year. All of them did it. There is no need to change the body shape to get newer advancements in lighting (headlight technology and tail light technology has changed a lot in the past 20 years), advancements in braking (4 wheels ABS disc brakes for mehran anyone?), advancements in fuel consumption (software upgrade for EFi), advancements in level of comfort (better seat cushion material, suspension upgrade and wheel size increase), looks upgrade (design of lights, wheel rims etc.), safety upgrades (collapsible steering column, ABS etc.), security upgrades (better locks, immobilizer, Suzuki could change the windows of the sliding door to a crank one to make the car more secure against theft, that DFMC made in Hyderabad came with this).

    All these incremental upgrades could wonders as we also know that Pakistan is a still developing country in the state of warzone. Not oil rich and it is not an advanced country.

    [That said, by now the Mehran, Bolan and Ravi have become too old chassis be meaningful for any upgrade, they are small and cramped for the average Pakistani and should be removed from service. Something big enough for Pakistani males and females should be brought in.]

    Pakistan has to see how countries have made better decisions while Pakistan has suffered. Why have those poor African countries adopted 4x4s? How come small country like Nepal has two generations older V8s all over? look at India, the same car we have with 1000cc, they have with 1200cc. How come Sri Lanka has Suzuki Kei with 1.3 engine? How China selected 1800cc Santana for its government officers and taxis while even they know they are fuel importer, and look at the huge geographical area.

    Yet Pakistan receives the undersized engine. Why? Because of the tax structure.
    But if you look at other countries, they also have same problems, separatist movements, political problems, poor economic conditions, weak governments, conspiracies by big countries against them, high crime rate, imported petrol, inflation. Even then those countries receive a larger engine in the same chassis. At least their public has one comfort that they can drive a larger engine at low RPM means longer engine life, more comfort because of less noise, taller gear ratios, less gear change, less driver fatigue, less numbers of shift shocks, less clutch overhauling, so on.

    Pakistan needs a small CUV. Bring it on. Other neighboring countries have it. Pakistan does not need LCV. Bring something that is sustainable here.

  • وجاہت علی

    agree a bitt.. cuz i use to work with suzuki!!!

  • Sultan Lashari

    Suzuki and Strong don’t go together.

  • Sultan Lashari

    The Blame should stay with Suzuki. WagonR is shit. Had they given the market the next gen Alto, specially the Uk model in the same price range as wagonR

  • Gues

    You are right, But does this “Market value nahi” wali car gives you 50% in return?
    For example If 8 lac worth of Mehran would give you 7.9 after 2 years, then “out of market” car would give you 4 lacs? or around 7 lac ?

  • Muhammad Yasir

    WHEN WILL WE GET ZOTYE IN PAKISTAN ?!
    man im tired of these OVER PRICED cars !

    i say our BFFS Chinese bring cheap cars to the LOCAL market !
    COME ONE !

  • Mehar ali

    To be honest it’s very unlikely that paksuzuki stopps production of mahran as long as people keep buying this crap of a car and any other automotive company comes here and stays

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