WHEN Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad visited Pakistan for the country’s Resolution Day Celebrations in March this year, he gifted the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan a unit of the Proton X70 during a ceremonial plaque signing ceremony.
Last week, Malaysian car manufacturer Proton delivered an X70 to the government of Pakistan. Representing Malaysia at the handover ceremony were Malaysian High Commissioner to Pakistan Ikram Mohammad Ibrahim and Proton director of investment and promotion Mohd Khalid Yusof.
Receiving on behalf of the Pakistani government were Khan’s advisor for commerce, textile, industry & production and investment Abdul Razak Dawood and chairman of Alhaj Automotive – the official distributor for Proton vehicles in Pakistan – Al-Haj Shah Jee Gul Afridi.
Proton stated that while that one X70 was gifted to the Pakistani prime minister, it will not be the only one in Pakistan. Work is underway at a Greenfield site in Karachi to build a new CKD assembly plant that will be owned and operated by Alhaj Automotive.
Production activities are currently scheduled to begin in 2021 with plans being formulated for the assembly of several models in the country.
Mohd Khalid said: “Proton sees a lot of potential in Pakistan and 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.
By building an assembly plant in Pakistan with Alhaj Automotive, Proton hopes to take advantage of reduced duties for CKD vehicles in the country. This will assist the company in achieving its long term goals to sell 400,000 vehicles by 2027.
The new CKD assembly plant in Karachi will be built with an initial investment of US$30 million and will create 2,000 direct employment opportunities in its first three years of operations. It is estimated that a further 20,000 indirect jobs will also be created as a result of the new plant being commissioned.
Afridi said: “Alhaj Automotive will leverage on its current dealerships located nationwide to start selling Proton vehicles as soon as possible while we develop standalone 3S/4S outlets. We will source CBU units from Malaysia to kick things off in Pakistan before switching to locally assembled units once the new assembly plant begins operations.”