Future of electric cars in Pakistan

Future of electric cars in Pakistan

With increasing global support on fossil fuel reduction and carbon pricing, automobile industries are now shifting towards electric car manufacturing. Tesla being the leader in the e-car business, has set a standard for others to follow. Generally electric cars are low range fuel-efficient cars and are also duty free. However, replacing the modern day sedans has been quite tough for e-car importers in Pakistan. Making e-cars a huge success in Pakistan may not come handy.

Research and development in e-car business date back to the 19th century. With the first electrically powered car being produced in 1895 by Thomas Parker, these cars have brought a new hope in the already ailing automobile industry. Over the years, through practical research, new technologies have been introduced in the automobile business and old car makers have been replaced by new ones. Tesla is one of the leading electric car manufacturers in the world, with a whopping 760,000 units sold only in year 2016. Locally manufactured electric cars were first introduced in the American market in year 2012 by Tesla. The Tesla’s model S became a massive hit as it offered a reasonable amount of range for in-city travelling along with a very impressive charging capability.

Human beings have unwillingly contributed to global carbon emission levels which forced the global leaders to sign the Paris agreement to combat carbon emission. Here in Pakistan there has been a lot of talk about climate change but no practical endeavors. However BMW has introduced their top of the line electric cars, the i3 and the i8 in Pakistan. The BMW i8 has a staggering price tag of Rs 18 million and only a few units have been sold so far, although the BMW i8 is a two door sports sedan with a seating capacity of four. The car works on two completely different power-trains at the same time: the battery mode and the gasoline mode. Manufactured from high quality Carbon-Fiber-reinforced-polymer, it is a very light weight car and is far better than other cars in the same class. Moreover the car functions on a lithium-Ion battery but with an additional pack that makes it a 7.1 kWh battery, the vehicles produces a range of 37km if driven on batteries, which is pretty low if we talk about electric cars but it is still higher than the Tesla Roadster which falls in the same class. However the car produces a huge range of 600km if driven on gasoline whilst being on the Eco Pro+ driving mode. Still the car is not a huge success in Pakistan. Other than the BMW’s e-car line, Nissan, Hyundai, Audi & Renault are already in talks with the Ministry of Industries & Production for producing locally manufactured electric cars.

There are two problems with electric cars in Pakistan. First, the power cuts and second, the consumer mindset. Electric cars demand high maintenance but at the same time they are extremely fuel efficient. Making any new idea a success model requires early adopters in the form of opinion leader who can influence the opinion formers. Although there have been a considerable amount of early adopters in this case but they too are the opinion formers not the opinion leaders. There is a need to aware people regarding the use of electrics, especially in urban areas to lower the amount of carbon emission at least in the cities to make them cleaner for the generations to come. In spite of the fact that people have been intrigued by the idea of hybrid cars, such as Honda Vezel and Toyota Prius, they are reluctant to completely transform their garage into fully electric cars due to long driving hours, even within cities. The technology is very cheap but complex.

To make it a success model, the producers and the investors can invest their money in making ‘charging stations’ readily available at every filling station. As compared to 43,000 charging stations in the U.S, Pakistan has just a few, not more than 100. And also the price is an issue for many consumers. Cheapest electric car available in Pakistan is the Nissan Leaf which stands at roughly Rs 2.7million which is way too much for masses. There is a requirement for locally manufactured electric cars that are cheaper than their imported counterparts. Still there is room for discussion left as the late adopters may prove beneficial as it is a new technology. In this case, time will play a deciding role because there is always a start to a success model.