The national carmaker sees a lot of potential in Pakistan to develop production of its cars
By HARIZAH KAMEL
PROTON Holdings Bhd’s very own flagship SUV, the X70, has officially arrived in Pakistan and has been received by its government last Monday.
The special delivery was made as promised by Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to his counterpart Imran Khan during his visit to Pakistan earlier this year for the country’s Resolution Day Celebrations.
Following the handover ceremony of the X70, Proton sees a lot of potential in Pakistan to develop production of its cars, said Proton’s investment and promotion director Mohd Khalid Yusof.
“As Malaysia is the only Muslim country to have its own automotive brand, both our countries are natural partners who have so much to share with each other. The Proton X70 has won several awards at home and we hope that eventually, it can accomplish the same feats when it arrives here,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Since its launch in December last year, the Proton X70 has sold over 26,000 units and will begin exporting to Brunei soon.
Among those who were present at the handover ceremony were the official distributor for Proton vehicles in Pakistan, Al-Haj FAW Motors Pte Ltd (Alhaj Automotive) chairman Al-Haj Shah Jee Gul Afridi and the Malaysian High Commissioner to Pakistan Ikram Mohammad Ibrahim who spoke on the potential for improved business ties between the two countries.
“The High Commission of Malaysia is supportive of the efforts between Proton and Alhaj Automotive to sell and then assemble Proton vehicles in Pakistan. Such commercial activities will contribute towards fostering closer and stronger economic ties between the two brotherly countries,” he said.
Meanwhile, work is underway to build a new complete knock-down (CKD) assembly plant in Greenfield Pakistan located in Karachi, the most populous city in Pakistan.
The plant will be owned and operated by Alhaj Automotive and production activities are scheduled to begin in 2021.
To achieve its long-term goals to sell 400,000 vehicles by 2027, Proton hopes to take advantage of the reduced duties for CKD vehicles in Pakistan through the partnership with Alhaj Automotive.
The CKD assembly plant in Karachi will be built with an initial investment of US$30 million (RM124.2 million) and is expected to produce 2,000 direct employment opportunities in its first three years of operations.
It is also estimated that around 20,000 indirect jobs will be created as a result of the new plant being commissioned.
Alhaj Automotive chairman Al-Haj Shah Jee Gul Afridi said the company will leverage on its current dealerships located nationwide to kickstart selling Proton vehicles as well as developing standalone 3S/4S outlets.
“We will source complete build-up units from Malaysia to kick things off in Pakistan before switching to locally assembled units once the new assembly plant begins operations,” he added.