Karachi: Hyundai Motor., South Korea’s biggest automaker, plans to partner with billionaire Mohammad Mian Mansha’s Nishat Mills to start assembling cars in Pakistan as vehicle sales accelerate in the $271 billion economy.
Nishat Mills’ venture, which includes Hyundai and Sojitz, will assemble passenger and one-ton commercial vehicles in Pakistan, the company said in a stock exchange filing in Karachi on Friday. Nishat wants to finalise the agreement after a feasibility study within four months, Norez Abdullah, an advicer to Nishat’s automobile and power division, said by phone from Lahore.
The South Korean company joins Renault and Kia Motors in planning to assemble vehicles in Pakistan to take advantage of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s proposal to offer incentives such as lower levies to lure carmakers. Passenger car sales in Pakistan climbed 19 per cent to 180,079 vehicles in the year to June, the highest since 2007, as the economy expanded at the fastest pace in a decade.
"There is a huge vacuum in the auto sector,” Abdullah said. "There aren’t enough options being delivered by Japanese auto carmakers for the past 20 years. People have started to look abroad for choices.”
Pakistan’s automobile market is dominated by Japanese automakers such as Toyota Motor, Honda Motor and Suzuki Motor. Suzuki’s local unit plans to invest $460 million on a second plant that may start production by end of 2018, according to an e-mailed statement by Pakistan’s finance ministry on Dec. 15.
Mansha’s Nishat Mills is Pakistan’s largest textile exporter, while his MCB Bank is the nation’s second-largest bank by market value. Nishat Mills shares rose 2 per cent to Rs169.52, the highest in a week, at the close of trading in Karachi.