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Auto AdBuzz LeadTechie gadgets (HD video players, front and rear cameras and graphic map displays) usually found in used cars that are imported into Pakistan have put pressure on local manufacturers to install similar devices in their locally assembled cars.

While this has enriched the driving experience, any ensuing problems with such complex electronics require expertise in troubleshooting that is vastly expensive, if available within the local automobile services sector. However, despite these limitations, advancements like keyless entry, electronic power steering, 7-gear transmission, immobilisers and airbags are becoming commonplace, primarily in high-end cars locally marketed by manufacturers such as Honda and Toyota. Furthermore, advanced gadgets and features such as vision cameras, traction control, touch-enabled in-dash navigation systems and multimedia are now readily available as add-ons upon extra payment.

These advancements will only become more widely available across lower-end models if prices are managed; one way of doing this is by prospecting for cheaper company-ratified Indian and Chinese sourcing options. This means jumpstarting the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status with India, a move that local car parts manufacturers believe will impact the industry negatively, especially given the government’s ambitious Deletion Programme, which calls for progressively ‘deleting’ imported parts from locally assembled vehicles and replacing them with locally manufactured ones. But, granting the MFN status to India will reverse the progress made in achieving the deletion targets by the industry, aggravating an already-tense industry-government relationship over duties and used car import policies.

Globally, the automobile industry remains the biggest consumer of technology for any product sold in the marketplace. In Pakistan however, the industry, limited in resource, planning and policy, is a long way from coming to terms with the breakneck speed of development and cost of car technologies. Until then, the industry will have to restrict its high-tech product slate to only a few models and a bare slice of the consumer market.

– Mazhar M Chinoy

First published in the ADBUZZZZ Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on September 7, 2014.

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