Despite the Auto Development Policy 2016-21 coming to an end soon, the established Japanese carmakers had the biggest market share of the Pakistan auto industry in 2020.
All the top five selling cars in Pakistan belonged to either Suzuki, Toyota or Honda, with one vague exception.
The No. 5 is the most ambiguous spot on the list as this can be claimed by three cars. Honda reports its Civic and City sedan car data together. It sold 21,910 sedans in 2020. Both Civic and City numbers are roughly similar, according to Ahmed Lakhani, a senior research analyst at JS Global. This means roughly 11,000 units of both cars may have been sold last year. Kia may also have sold a similar number of its crossover SUV Sportage, according to the analyst. But the new entrant doesn’t report its car sales data to the Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association.
Suzuki’s 1,000cc hatchback Cultus is at No. 4, with 13,215 units sold in 2020. However, its sales may come under pressure due to the launch of Changan Alsvin, the cheapest sedan in the country, according to Lakhani.
Toyota Yaris, which comes with 1,300cc and 1,500cc engine sizes, occupies the third spot, with 14,172 units sold last year. This was despite the fact that the sedan was launched in March, when the country was in a lockdown. Yaris replaced Corolla 1.3 GLI and XLI.
Toyota Corolla saw its 18,825 units sell during the year. Corolla held this spot perhaps for the last time as its 1.3 GLI and XLI variants have been rebranded as Yaris. Corolla has been rebranded as Corolla X, which will have 1,800cc engines.
Suzuki’s 660cc Alto was the best-selling car of 2020, with 23,479 units sold during the year. It is an entry-level car, according to Taha Madani, a research analyst at BMA Capital.
“For instance, when a banker is entitled to a car after promotion for the first time, the bank gives them an Alto because it is technically the cheapest car in the country,” Madani said. “There are others like Prince Pearl or United Bravo, which are selling low-cost cars but they don’t share their data and I think they wouldn’t even be selling 5% of Alto.”
Suzuki cars are popular for their resale, and cheap and easily available spare parts. The company is known to offer the lowest-cost cars among established brands in Pakistan. Suzuki discontinued its top selling 800cc Mehran in 2019. In its place, the company reintroduced Alto with a smaller 660cc engine.
“In fact, the Mehran was actually the second-generation Alto introduced in Pakistan in 1989,” said Shakaib Khan, a car enthusiast who runs car repair firm SKMS. “Pakistan may be the only country where same model of different generations are sold at the same time.”
Pak Suzuki launched the fifth generation 1,000cc Alto in 2000, while selling the 800cc Mehran (second generation Alto) side by side. The 1,000cc Alto was discontinued in 2012.
The year 2020 for the auto industry
Pakistan’s auto industry struggled to maintain its sales during the Covid-19 pandemic. The number of cars sold in the country dropped to an 11-year low, despite the sales picked up in the second half of the year.
The industry sold 124,000 cars during the year, according to the Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association’s data. It was 34% lower than the previous year’s.
The last time the industry sold cars below this level was in 2009. The number of cars sold during the year was recorded at 107,800 during the Great Recession, which made many countries struggle financially.
The highest number of car sales were recorded during 2018, when 255,000 vehicles were sold across Pakistan.