• Al-Haj FAW Motors assembles trucks, vans and pickups
  • Pakistan's consumer demand expected to rise as rates fall

China FAW Group Corp., a Chinese partner of Volkswagen AG, plans to start assembling cars in Pakistan to tap growing demand as measures to curb terrorism boost growth in the South Asian economy.

Hilal Khan Afridi
Hilal Khan Afridi
Photographer: Asim Hafeez/Bloomberg

The company seeks to sell 10,000 vehicles, including vans, cars and pickups, in 2018 after it begins local assembly of the V2 hatchback at the end of this year, Hilal Khan Afridi, chief executive officer of Al-Haj FAW Motors Pvt., said in an interview in Karachi. Al-Haj FAW is the Chinese group’s local venture and began selling imported V2’s in January last year.

FAW will be the first carmaker in a decade to start assembling in Pakistan, where the economy is set to grow at the fastest pace since 2008 as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government tackles power shortages and terrorism. China’s President Xi Jinping has also pledged to invest $45 billion in the country, boosting the outlook for expansion.

“Initially we had a lot of difficulty to convince them to help us with technical expertise,” said Afridi. “Now that the Chinese market has slowed down they have increased their interest in international markets. It’s a good sign for us.”

Chinese spending on infrastructure may help Karachi-based Ghandhara Nissan Ltd. double sales of Chinese Dongfeng trucks. Al-Haj FAW sold about 3,400 vans and pickups along with 535 locally assembled trucks last year. The company plans to invest 1 billion rupees ($9.5 million) to assemble cars in Pakistan.

Production At Al-Haj FAW Motors
Production At Al-Haj FAW Motors
Photographer: Asim Hafeez/Bloomberg

“Things are looking up for the auto industry,” says Ahmed Hanif Lakhani, analyst at Karachi-based Arif Habib Ltd. “The economy is growing and consumer demand is rising with low interest rates making leasing more feasible.”

Pakistan’s economy is estimated to expand 5.5 percent in the year to June, according to the Ministry of Finance. Car sales in the nation increased 52 percent to 15,724 units in November from a year earlier, according to the Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association.

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