The reason behind the popularity and success of imported cars

Imported Cars

The question of whether to buy an imported car, such as a Daihastsu Mira, or a  Pakistani-made equivalent, for example a Suzuki Mehran, is something which in most cases is decided by the buying power of the particular customer. Due to the extremely high import tariffs in Pakistan, imported vehicles are almost always more expensive as compared to their locally assembled rivals. What is interesting is that even though the imported vehicles are more expensive, Pakistani buyer will almost always prefer an imported model.

This is due to several reasons such as build quality, reliability, trust, and status. It is a sad fact that the Pakistani public has a very negative view of most Pakistani made products. This is a general perception which pervades throughout the society and therefore the locally produced Toyota Corolla or Suzuki Alto are thought to be less reliable then a for example an imported Suzuki Alto. Is there actual truth to this perception which is held by the public opinion, that the locally assembled cars are not as well built? Often it is heard that the parts and materials used in the locally assembled vehicles is inferior to the ones used by the factories in Japan. I have not done any sort of research on this but I would generally agree that there is a difference in the materials used. One thing, which I have noticed myself, is the quality of the plastics used for the interiors seems to be much better in the imported models.

So due possibly to biased public opinion and possibly some truth as well the wealthier customer prefers to buy an imported vehicle because it is considered to be a better vehicle. This preference gives way to another effect which helps to make the imported cars even more sought-after which is how social status is attached to imported cars. Due to wealthier people preferring to buy imported cars this leads to imported cars being associated with a higher economic status which causes the local car market to suffer.

Added to this problem is that the locally car manufactures have not provided any vehicles which can be classified into the mid-size premium segment of the market. The most premium models locally produced are the Toyota Corolla Altis and Honda Civic VTi Oriel. Although, these cars are very well equipped the problem is that the market is saturated with the lower spec Civics and Corollas and so the fully loaded Altis and VTi Oriel fail to provide enough product differentiation. To fulfil this demand in the market for vehicles which are more premium, one can see many imported cars which fill this gap such as the Toyota Premio, Toyota Mark X, Honda Accord, Toyota Mark II, Toyota Wish, Toyota Camry, Toyota Fielder, and Toyota Crown.

So what we see is that the imported car market fills the gaps, which the local market is unable to fill. The biggest gap is the lack of a reliable subcompact car that would be considered to be as good as an imported Japanese subcompact like the Daihatsu Mira. The next gap is in the mid-size luxury segment for which there are no locally produced Pakistani options hence the large array of mid-sized premium models being imported into Pakistan.