“Many of our customers literally cry when they buy their first Mehran. All their lives they have been saving up little amounts to buy this car.”, says Mohammad Ali Khalid, Managing Director of Suzuki’s main dealership in Islamabad.
I read this quote the other day while I was reading this article on the state of Pakistani automobile industry on The Economist. The article laments on the same things we have been doing over the life of this blog. The author was bemoaning over the fact that Suzuki Mehran, the entry-level car this industry has to offer, lacks basic features and has not changed much over the period of 26 years.
In 26 years, a child grows up and becomes capable of starting its own car company yet Suzuki only managed to make the engine EFI to make it Euro-II compliant, which is a shame to be honest as Euro-II is an obsolete standard now. Suzuki Mehran is practically a tin cabin on wheels with harder seats than the bench I used to sit in my school.
The point is, people put in their lives’ saving to buy their first car, and the said car wouldn’t even save their lives in an event of a crash. Don’t you find it ironic? These local automakers are using their influence to bend policies in their favor, policies which do not take into consideration the requirements of consumers. People of Pakistan deserve better than Suzuki Mehran, a car that would not even pass the road fitness test of many countries fresh off the assembly line. Some still might not know, Pak Suzuki does not have automatic welding plants for our ‘pride and joy’ Mehran.
But only the policy makers are not alone to be blamed. People who buy this car are equally responsible for the sad state of this industry. As long as people keep buying cars like Suzuki Mehran, these automakers will keep on making such cars and keep on bending the policies to keep these cars in production.