Auto industry experts have hailed the government for considering introducing hybrid electric vehicles before shifting to electric transportation.

They cited that it would have a long-term impact on the local vendor industry and would also substantially reduce travel and fuel cost.

Talking to The Express Tribune, auto industry expert Mashood Ali Khan said that the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) would localise all those parts for which manufacturing technologies were available including hybrid technology-related parts.

These would include body structural parts, suspensions, interior and exterior, electrical circuits, etc, he added.

The localisation would be subject to a “techno-economic feasibility” and volumes of a particular hybrid, he said, adding that they would vary from brand to brand.

Hybrid vehicles were a “practical and reliable solution for Pakistan” amid issues like import of fuel, deteriorating electricity distribution system and devaluation of Pakistani rupee, he underlined.

“Considering these factors, fuel and electricity prices will rise, therefore, hybrid cars provide a reliable solution for mobility, especially for long distances like from Karachi to Lahore,” Khan maintained.

“The support system is available for long journeys, hence, per mile travel cost with easily available fuel would be the biggest catalysing factor in the adoption of hybrid vehicles in Pakistan,” he remarked.

Talking about the anticipated market size of local hybrids, he said that the trend of electric vehicles adoption was increasing internationally.

Citing an example, he said in Europe, around 40% of the total market had been transformed which includes hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery-powered electric vehicles (BEVs).

Hybrids represented around 30%, whereas BEVs were at 10%, he added.

“We believe a similar trend to follow in Pakistan.”

“In the initial phase (five to ten years), the hybrids will dominate in the country,” he opined.

Arif Habib Limited analyst Arsalan Hanif revealed that the Indus Motor Company had announced plans to invest $100 million for local production of hybrid electric vehicles.

“This is a great initiative as the world is moving towards environment-friendly cars to overcome climate change,” he remarked.

This would help the country in reducing oil import bills and save “precious foreign exchange”, he underlined.

He was of the view that the hybrid electric vehicles would help in reducing the fuel cost by 50-70%.

Other countries were also giving priority to environmentally-friendly cars, Hanif pointed out.

“This development and success of hybrid electric vehicles will attract new investment in the automobile industry,” he predicted.

On the flip side of the coin, some experts see the hybrid production plans with suspicion.

Pakistan Electric Vehicles and Spare Parts Manufacturers and Traders Association General Secretary Shaukat Qureshi said that Japanese car makers in Pakistan managed to include hybrids in the EV policy as they did not have small electric vehicles.

“Hybrids are fading out of the world’s auto market, even a major international carmaker has expressed its regrets to promote hybrids.”

“All such plants are being closed,” he said.

“What were they waiting for to bring in such plants, if hybrids were better technology suited to Pakistan,” he asked.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2021.

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