Though hybrid technology has been around since 1900, when 23-year-old engineer Ferdinand Porsche introduced his model Lohner-Porsche Elektromobil at The Paris Exposition, the technology has not been able to woo Pakistanis.
Pakistan remains largely unexposed to hybrids as no mainstream manufacturer has put its hands there. Hybrid models that are mainly available are either import from Japan or from high-end brands serving for a niche market.
Despite the federal government loosening its leash on its policy of hybrid technology, industry experts believe that a lot more is needed – both at the government and stakeholder level – to promote the hybrid technology.
Porsche Pakistan Chief Executive Officer Abuzar Bokhari believes the local market is largely deprived of options when it comes to hybrid cars. “Our government needs to expand on their support of this technology,” said Bokhari. “Recognition of these cars can aid in tackling one of the main causes of imbalance in payments – import of petroleum products.”
Bokhari was of the opinion that the previous budget marked a gigantic step forward on part of the government that allowed a relief in sales taxes on the import and supply of electric hybrid vehicles.
“Importers were granted an exemption of up to 50% on all hybrid electric vehicles of up to 1,800cc engines. Additionally, a 25% exemption was granted to vehicles over 1,800cc.
“Hybrid technology has a lot of ground to cover in Pakistan owning to its many years of absence,” said Bokhari. “However, the government is taking the necessary steps to cover up for lost time.”
There is a need to open up competition in the market, Bokhari said. “We believe that Pakistan is a booming market for potential clients and therefore, the time is ripe to bring Porsche to the country.”
Porsche entered Pakistan in 2005 when the first centre was opened in Lahore by Autotechnik Private Limited, exclusive importers of Porsche, with a fully functional sales and service centre.
Though it only caters to a niche market, it is gradually expanding its infrastructure and has recently opened a new centre in Karachi and is looking to open another one in Islamabad.
According to the CEO, there is a general misconception that the brand caters to only high-end billionaires. But Bokhari said that the brand is a “performance car” aimed at attracting entrepreneurs. “We carry almost every product in Pakistan available under Porsche brand globally.”
Delving into details of its hybrid model, the CEO explained that these vehicles utilise two or more separate power sources to propel them. This is usually in the form of hybrid electric technology which encompasses both a regular combustion engine (normally petrol or diesel) and an electric motor(s). This configuration allows for a greater balance between performance and efficiency with lower carbon emissions. As these cars can function on electricity, their carbon footprint is significantly less, making it a long-term investment.
According to Bokhari, Porsche’s Cayenne S E-Hybrid is the first plug-in hybrid car in the high-end SUV segment. “Boasting a lithium-ion drive battery with a capacity of 10.8 kWh that can be fully charged in approximately 2.7 hours through a conventional power socket,” said Bokhari.
“The car possesses a 3.0 liter V6 engine with an electric motor that also gets charged while driving, making the car even more efficient.”
Though global sales of Porsche may not be as high as other car manufacturers – standing at 170,000 units annually – Bohkari insisted it is a brand catering to a specific class and hence, comparing it with other car manufacturers would be unfair.