Born at a car porch of one of his affluent
relatives with no place to live, Feroze Khan would not himself know as
to kismet would make himself a car manufacturer.
Khan, 56, began life amid scanty fiscal resources
in Aamil Colony, a poor Karachi neighbourhood, but sheer poverty did
not prevent him from dreaming high as he geared his way through to
become a graduate engineer by the time his youth peaked.
But that was not all.
His dream went further wild when he started
idealising Ratan Tata, the legendary Indian automobile manufacturer
and business tycoon. The committed engineer kept struggling through
his career and finally ushered Pakistan into a 16-member elite club of
car manufacturing countries in the world.
"Every nation in the world has taken a lot of
pride (making cars) and I wanted to contribute it to my country,"
said a proud Khan, who owns Adam Motor Company Limited, the
manufacturer of the first Pakistani car -Revo.
Rife political uncertainties, corruption, religious
and sectarian militancy and coups have made majority of 150 million
people fairly skeptical of whether they could make any achievement as
a nation. "It is our national psyche that if you are a Pakistani
you can only do a mediocre or a bad thing," he said. "We
want to change it," he vowed.
An official acclamation came when Khan's invitation
to launch his designed car was formally accepted by country's premier
in April. "This is a red-letter day in the history of our
manufacturing sector," Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz told a
gathering at the roll-out ceremony of the 800 cc and 1000 cc Revo,
designed and assembled by the Karachi-based company, owned by Khan.
"With this, Pakistan has joined the club of 16
countries having the capability of designing an original car," he
While Khan is steering to take the car to the
levels of the other global auto brands, he is also faced with the
challenge of inherent distrust of Pakistanis in their own products
coupled with technological advanced Japanese and Korean competitors at
home. "The clients' response is good since it is the first
Pakistani car... and how much confidence Pakistanis do have in their
own product...very minimal.
"I am sure that the car is very reliable. I
have made sure that we have not cut any corner on the quality. It may
not be 100 percent Japanese's gaps and level lengths but functionally
it will be a wonderful car."
The manufacturer has given special consideration to
the car making in view of the poor road infrastructure and hot
climatic conditions of the country.
"We have sounder suspension, we have designed
the radiator bigger with a cooling system and we are very confident of
its road performance but still our team is working day and night to
make it further better," he said.
With gleaming range of colors, the small-sized car
has started plying on the roads of Karachi this month initially and
the company has orders of 400 cars and considers the response fair.
"There are 400 people, who have booked the
cars and we ensure them long term relationships and this rate of
booking is OK for a new comer," Khan contentedly said.
"Every one have liked the way the car looks,
every one has like the engine sound, the ride is more comfortable than
the competitors," Khan said.
It took seven years to Khan to realise his dream
"I started on this project seven years ago.
Four years for preparations of technology and three years to work
actively on the car," he said.
But it was not a new business for Khan as he had
already built Omar Jibran (OJ) Engineering Industries Limited, a
vendor company and a primary source of auto parts to local assemblers
of Daihatsu, Toyota Corolla, Honda and Suzuki brands.
"We could have not done it without OJ. The
designing was done at OJ, the technology is based at OJ," said
Khan who also is the chief executive of the car vending company, which
supplies bumpers, dash boards, instrument panels to their Japanese and
Korean competitors here.
A caveat, however, is yet to remove by the Adam
Motor to make the new car fully indiginsed as it has been using
Chinese engine and transmission system, a stigma that gives cynics a
pretext to not call it a Pakistani car.
"In September we will start setting up engine
assembling plant next to our present plant and by 2007 we will have
this engine been manufactured in Pakistan," he said.
Wuling of China, a 75-year old company, which makes
400,000, engines a year and a supplier to General Motors (GM), signed
the agreement with Adam Motors in November 2003 during the visit of
President Pervez Musharraf to Beijing, he said.
Millat Tractor, a Pakistani automotive company,
would build transmission system of the car.
PAKISTANI AUTOMOBILE SECTOR:
The first phase of automotive assembling in
Pakistan started in 1950 but practically ceased to go on by the end of
The second phase of automobile started in 1983 with
the introduction of Suzuki followed by Toyota, Honda, and Nissan of
Japan. Korean Hyundai and Fiat of Italy also have technical
collaboration with the local assemblers.
Cumulative annualised capacity of car production
comes to over 115,000, according to data of Ministry of Production and
Industries. At present 18 automobile units are involved in the
assembling or manufacturing business with the support of downstream
industry comprising 850 units of auto parts manufacturers.
Car demand has outstripped supplies in past three
years on the back of robust economic growth that remained the second
fastest in the fiscal 2004-05 at the rate of 8.2 percent. The demand
was also spurred by low interest rates, cheaper and easy availability
of car financing. The government liberalized about 15-year old tariff
protection regime of car imports in the new budget announced in June,
though assemblers claim they expended their production to 160,000
units from 49,000 units in past four years.
"We have 46 percent growth for the past three
years but still there is gap of 20,000 to 25,000 cars," Khan
The car demand may not be so robust because of
rising interest rates and lower projection in economic growth but
still may increase at the rate of 20 percent annually, industry expert
"It's a marathon, I am not running a 100-meter
race," Khan said.