The Automotive industry has been an active and growing field in Pakistan for a long time, however not as much established to figure in the prominent list of the top automotive industries, having astable annual production 100-170 thousands only. Despite significant production volumes, transfer of technology and localization of vehicle components remains low, and only a few car models are assembled in the country while customers have a very small variety of vehicles to choose from. The lack of competition in the local auto industry due to the presence of just three assemblers -and only one small car assembler- has resulted in technological stagnation of the industry; small cars produced by Paksuzuki, the country's largest auto assembler, in the country are globally retired models utilizing obsolete technology and not offering any safety features. Currently some of the major world automakers have set up assembly plants or are in joint ventures with local companies these include Toyota, General motorsHonda, Suzuki, Nissan Motors. The total contribution of Auto industry to GDP in 2007 was 2.8% which is likely to increase up to 5.6% in the next 5 years. Auto sector presently, contributes 16% to the manufacturing sector which is predicted to increase 25% in the next 7 years. Many cars in the country have dual fuel options and run on CNG which is more affordable and cheaper than petrol in the country.
According to Ministry of Industries, Pakistan produced its first vehicle in 1953, at the National Motors Limited, established in Karachi to assemble Bedford Trucks. Subsequently buses, light trucks and cars were assembled in the same plant. The industry was highly regulated until the early 1990s. After deregulation major Japanese manufacturers entered in the market thereby creating some competition in this sector. Assemblers of HINO Trucks, Suzuki Cars (1984), Mazda Trucks, Toyota (1993) and Honda (1994) in particular, entered once deregulation was introduced. Assembly of Daihatsu and Hyundai cars (1999) and various brands of LCVs and range of mini-trucks commenced recently.
From 1953 to 2011, the journey of auto industry has been rough, tough and sometime very smooth. Car industry saw boom in 2006-2007 when sales touched record peak of 180,834 thanks to rising car financing up to 70-80 per cent by banks due to low interest rates and rising rural buying. Since then the industry has been surviving hard to reach the same sales level amid high interest rates and Yen appreciation against the rupee but high farm income is giving much support to car sales. Good crops this year will keep the car sales brisk despite increase in prices.
The car industry has invested over Rs 20 billion in the last four to five years to meet growing demand. The direct employment in car industry hovers between 5,500-6,000 persons.Motorcycle production hit the country's record level of over 1.5 million units in 2010-2011 by the effort of Pervaiz Musharraf Government's decision that opened bike market to low cost Chinese bikes. Auto sector now employs 192,000 people directly and around 1.2 million indirectly and has Rs 98 billion of investments and contributes Rs 63 billion as indirect tax in the national exchequer.
Auto Sector remains the second largest payer of indirect taxes after the Petroleum Sector. In Pakistan's context there are 10 cars in 1,000 persons which is one of the lowest in the emerging economies which itself speaks of high potential of growth in the auto sector and more so in the car production. Rising per capita income with changing demographic distribution and an anticipated influx of 30 to 40 million young people in the economically active workforce in the next few years provides a stimulus to the industry to expand and grow (Source AUTOMARK Magazine).
There has also been a recent interest towards hybrid and electric cars among educated Pakistani buyers however there unavailability remains a problem.