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The lopsided market structure of the automobile industry



Cars are supposed to go down in value. Here they are a fixed asset.

An automobile is supposed to be a depreciating asset.  An asset which is used and over time its value depreciates as wear and tear takes hold, and new technology results in better, and safer cars.  In Pakistan, it is the complete opposite.  A protectionist regime which has protected the incumbents for almost three decades now continues to manufacture cars which are not just expensive relative to other regional markets in US$ terms, but also of substandard quality, often skimping on technological advances available in similar models in other regional, and global markets.

In presence of a protectionist regime, competition from imported automobiles is discouraged through an excessive duties regime.  In absence of competition from imported automobiles, local manufacturers do not have the incentive to improve their product offering resulting in a welfare loss for consumers, as they continue to pay a higher price for substandard automobiles, relative to the choice set available in other markets.

Through an extended protectionist regime, and absence of any external competition, local manufacturers increase prices every few weeks, often pegging the prices with parity of PKR against major currencies.  Any depreciation in PKR results in increase of prices locally by a proportionate, or higher increase in prices. 

Furthermore, as demand often outstrips local supply, there is an extended wait time for delivery of automobiles, often stretching from six months to even one year in many cases.  In-effect, an automobile buyer will have to pay a certain percentage of the price in advance for booking, following with full payment.  Furthermore, any price increases during this period are also borne by the customer.  Such an erratic pricing and payment regime as well as waiting times extended to twelve months or more, automobiles have essentially become financial assets.

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Many individuals even use automobiles as an asset class, given its strong correlation with value of PKR against major currencies.  A depreciating PKR eventually results in an increase in price of automobiles.  More importantly due to a long wait time, there exists a substantial premium for delivery of vehicles on spot.  A premium of 10 to 15 percent is fairly common on various models, if someone wants the automobile on spot, or with a much shorter waiting. 

Such market distortions have resulted in emergence of a class of investors who act as market makers, and pocket a sweet low-risk financial spread on automobiles bought and sold.  Creation of a shadow financial market has also been made possible due to increasing prevalence of cash in the economy, with most transactions being done outside the financial system, devoid of any potential capital gains taxes, or even income taxes.  A market distortion eventually having a ripple effect across the economy, from welfare loss to consumers, to creation of a shadow market.

There must be some kind of way out of here, said the joker to the thief.  Jimi Hendrix uttered these words in his seminal work, all along the watchtower.  The way out of a protectionism regime is creation of a vibrant, and more open market.  Reducing duties on imports is one way to enable more competition, but an unintended consequence of increased automobile imports can be a deteriorating current account deficit situation given precarious state of our foreign exchange reserves.  However, any such incremental imports must be compared with imports of Completely Knocked Down (CKD) units, and other components.  

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It is estimated that roughly 60 to 70 percent of components of an automobile sold in Pakistan are imported.  In essence, we are importing a significant quantum of components regardless.  Restricting imports further disincentivizes local automobile manufacturers to increase local production of components and reduce the import component.  Increasing competition through reduction in duties and sticking with the policy rather than succumbing to pressure of the automobile lobby may actually benefit consumers in the long-run.  A tiered taxation structure where a lower tax is applied on automobiles with higher proportion of local components, thereby making the automobiles relatively more affordable can also be a policy action to steer the industry towards a more competitive market regime.

Policy actions need to focus on enhancing consumer welfare, rather than safeguarding producer surplus.  A protectionist regime rarely enhances consumer welfare and often results in creation of a market structure which even stunts growth of an industry when a global marketplace is considered.  Automobile industry is a classic example of the same where adverse incentives has created more problems than it has solved.  A gradual opening up of competition in the industry and ensuring policy continuity for the same would enable availability of better and affordable products for the local consumer.  In essence protection of infant industries shouldn’t be till perpetuity, the infant has got to grow someday.

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US Set to Impose 100% Tariff on Chinese Electric Vehicle Imports: A Move to Protect Domestic Industry from Cheap Competition



The Biden administration has taken another significant step in its efforts to safeguard the American automotive industry by announcing a 100% tariff on Chinese electric vehicle (EV) imports. This move is part of a broader strategy to protect domestic manufacturers from the perceived threat posed by cheap imports from China, which has been a major concern for the US industry in recent years. In this article, we will delve into the details of this decision, its implications, and the broader context in which it was made.

Background: The Rise of Chinese Electric Vehicles

China has emerged as a major player in the global electric vehicle market, driven by government policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions and promoting domestic industries. The country has invested heavily in EV manufacturing, with many major companies such as BYD, Geely, and Great Wall Motor producing a wide range of electric vehicles. This has led to a significant increase in EV exports from China, which has become a major competitor to US manufacturers in the global market.

The US Response: Tariffs and Trade Policies

In response to the growing threat from Chinese EV imports, the Biden administration has taken several measures to protect the domestic industry. One of the key steps has been the imposition of tariffs on Chinese EV imports. The 100% tariff, which is expected to take effect in the coming months, is designed to level the playing field for American manufacturers by making Chinese imports more expensive and less competitive.

This move is part of a broader trade policy aimed at addressing the perceived unfair trade practices of China. The US has long accused China of engaging in unfair trade practices, including subsidies to domestic industries and intellectual property theft. The Biden administration has vowed to take a tougher stance on these issues, and the tariff on Chinese EV imports is seen as a key part of this strategy.

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Implications for the US Automotive Industry

The imposition of a 100% tariff on Chinese EV imports is likely to have significant implications for the US automotive industry. On the one hand, it will provide a much-needed boost to domestic manufacturers, which have been struggling to compete with cheap Chinese imports. The tariff will make Chinese EVs more expensive, which could help to level the playing field and give American manufacturers a better chance of competing in the global market.

On the other hand, the tariff could also have negative consequences for the US industry. For example, it could lead to higher prices for American consumers, who may be forced to pay more for EVs as a result of the tariff. Additionally, the tariff could also lead to retaliatory measures from China, which could have broader implications for the US economy.

Impact on the Global Electric Vehicle Market

The imposition of a 100% tariff on Chinese EV imports is likely to have significant implications for the global electric vehicle market. China is currently the world’s largest EV market, and the country’s manufacturers are major players in the global market. The tariff could lead to a significant reduction in EV exports from China, which could have a ripple effect on the global market.

Other countries, such as Japan and South Korea, which are also major players in the EV market, may also be impacted by the tariff. These countries may need to adjust their own trade policies and strategies in response to the changing market dynamics.


The imposition of a 100% tariff on Chinese EV imports is a significant development in the ongoing trade tensions between the US and China. The move is designed to protect the American automotive industry from the perceived threat posed by cheap Chinese imports, but it could also have negative consequences for the US economy and the global electric vehicle market.

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As the US and China continue to engage in a trade war, it is clear that the global electric vehicle market will be significantly impacted. The key question is how these developments will shape the future of the industry and what implications they will have for consumers, manufacturers, and the environment.

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China’s Dealers Embrace Homegrown EVs, Ditching Foreign-Branded Petrol Cars



Chinese car dealers are increasingly turning towards homegrown electric vehicles (EVs), according to a report by the South China Morning Post. The trend is being driven by a combination of government incentives and changing consumer preferences. The shift towards greener vehicles is part of China’s broader efforts to reduce pollution and carbon emissions.

China's showrooms display local EVs, replacing foreign petrol cars

The report cites several examples of dealerships that have undergone makeovers to showcase China’s EV offerings. One dealership in Beijing, for instance, replaced its petrol vehicles with electric models and installed charging stations on the forecourt. Another dealership in Guangzhou has set up a separate showroom for EVs, complete with interactive displays and test-drive facilities. These initiatives not only promote China’s EVs but also offer a glimpse into the country’s broader push towards sustainable transportation.

China’s Automotive Market Shift

Chinese dealers display EVs, replacing foreign petrol cars. Showroom transformation underway

China’s automotive market has undergone a significant shift in recent years, with a growing emphasis on electric vehicles (EVs) and a decline in the popularity of foreign petrol brands. This shift is part of the country’s broader pivot towards greener vehicles and a more sustainable future.

Transition to Electric Vehicles

China is one of the world’s largest markets for EVs, with the government offering significant support for the industry. In 2020, EV sales in China accounted for more than 40% of global EV sales, with over 1.3 million EVs sold in the country. This trend is expected to continue, with the Chinese government setting ambitious targets for EV adoption in the coming years.

To support this transition, Chinese automakers have invested heavily in EV technology and production. Many of these companies are now among the world’s largest EV manufacturers, including BYD, NIO, and Xpeng. These companies have also benefited from government subsidies and incentives, making EVs more affordable for Chinese consumers.

Decline of Foreign Petrol Brands

As China’s focus on EVs has grown, the popularity of foreign petrol brands has declined. This shift is partly due to the government’s efforts to promote domestic brands and reduce reliance on foreign imports. In addition, Chinese consumers are increasingly looking for greener and more sustainable options, leading to a decline in demand for petrol vehicles.

As a result, many foreign automakers have struggled to maintain their market share in China. Some have responded by investing in EV technology and production, while others have partnered with Chinese companies to develop new EV models. However, the dominance of Chinese automakers in the EV market means that foreign brands are likely to face significant challenges in the coming years.

Overall, China’s automotive market is undergoing a significant shift towards greener and more sustainable vehicles, with a growing emphasis on EVs and a decline in the popularity of foreign petrol brands. This shift is likely to continue in the coming years, with Chinese automakers leading the way in the development and production of EVs.

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Impact on Dealerships

Chinese dealerships replace foreign petrol cars with local EVs, showcasing updated showrooms

Adapting Showrooms

As China’s automotive market continues to shift towards electric vehicles (EVs), dealerships are having to adapt their showrooms to accommodate the changing demand. Many dealerships are now making over their showrooms to showcase homegrown EVs, while foreign-branded petrol cars are being pushed to the sidelines.

These makeovers offer an on-the-forecourt example of the country’s pivot to greener vehicles. The dealerships are investing in new technology, such as EV charging stations, to make the transition to EVs as smooth as possible for their customers.

Sales Strategy Transformation

The shift towards EVs is also requiring dealerships to transform their sales strategies. They are having to educate their sales teams on the benefits of EVs and how to sell them effectively. This includes highlighting the cost savings of EVs over petrol cars, as well as their environmental benefits.

Dealerships are also having to adjust their inventory to meet the demand for EVs. This means reducing the number of foreign-branded petrol cars in stock and increasing the number of homegrown EVs.

Overall, the impact on dealerships is significant as they adapt to the changing market. However, the investment in new technology and sales strategies is necessary to keep up with the demand for greener vehicles in China.

Government Policies and Incentives

Chinese dealers swap foreign petrol cars for local EVs. Showrooms get makeovers with new incentives

China’s government has implemented various policies and incentives to promote the use of electric vehicles (EVs) and encourage the growth of the domestic EV industry. These policies and incentives have played a crucial role in the country’s pivot towards greener vehicles.

Subsidies for EVs

One of the most significant government policies is the provision of subsidies for EVs. The Chinese government offers purchase subsidies for buyers of new EVs, which can range from 10,000 to 50,000 yuan depending on the vehicle’s range. The subsidies are intended to make EVs more affordable for consumers and encourage the adoption of greener vehicles.

In addition to purchase subsidies, the Chinese government also provides incentives for the construction of EV charging infrastructure. Local governments are encouraged to invest in charging stations, and companies that build and operate charging stations are eligible for subsidies and tax breaks.

Regulations Favouring Domestic Brands

China’s government has also implemented regulations that favour domestic EV brands over foreign ones. For example, the government requires that a certain percentage of the vehicles sold by automakers in China must be EVs. This policy has been instrumental in promoting the growth of domestic EV brands such as BYD, Nio, and Xpeng.

Moreover, the Chinese government has also implemented a “dual credit” system that requires automakers to produce a certain number of new energy vehicles (NEVs), which include EVs and plug-in hybrids. Automakers that fail to meet the NEV production targets are required to purchase NEV credits from other automakers that have exceeded their targets. This policy has encouraged automakers to invest in the development and production of EVs and other NEVs.

Overall, China’s government policies and incentives have played a crucial role in promoting the adoption of EVs and the growth of the domestic EV industry. These policies have created a favourable environment for the development and production of greener vehicles, which is aligned with the country’s goal of reducing its carbon footprint and promoting sustainable development.

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Consumer Behaviour and Preferences

Chinese dealers display EVs, replacing foreign petrol cars. Showrooms feature makeovers

Growing Environmental Awareness

China’s consumers are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious, and this is reflected in their purchasing decisions. As awareness of the impact of fossil fuels on the environment grows, more and more consumers are choosing to buy greener vehicles, such as electric cars. According to a report by McKinsey, China is expected to account for more than 50% of global electric vehicle sales by 2030.

Brand Loyalty Shifts

Another factor driving the shift towards homegrown EVs is changing brand loyalty among Chinese consumers. In the past, foreign-branded petrol cars were seen as a status symbol, and many consumers were willing to pay a premium for these vehicles. However, as Chinese automakers have improved the quality and performance of their EVs, consumers are increasingly willing to consider homegrown brands.

This shift in brand loyalty is reflected in the changing fortunes of foreign automakers in China. According to a report by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, sales of foreign-branded vehicles in China fell by 1.1% in 2020, while sales of domestic brands increased by 4.4%. This trend is expected to continue as Chinese automakers continue to invest in the development of new EV models.

Overall, the growing environmental awareness and changing brand loyalty among Chinese consumers are driving the shift towards homegrown EVs. As China continues to pivot towards greener vehicles, it is likely that we will see more and more consumers choosing to buy electric cars over petrol vehicles.

Future Outlook for EV Market

Chinese dealers replace foreign petrol cars with local EVs in showrooms. Makeovers showcase EVs

Predicted Market Growth

The future for the electric vehicle (EV) market in China looks bright. As the country continues to push for greener transportation, the demand for EVs is expected to rise. According to a report by BloombergNEF, China is predicted to account for over half of all EV sales globally by 2025. This growth is driven by government policies, incentives, and a growing middle class.

The Chinese government has set a target of having 20% of all new car sales to be electric by 2025. To achieve this goal, the government has implemented various policies, such as subsidies for EV buyers and stricter emission standards for traditional vehicles. These policies have helped to make EVs more affordable and attractive to consumers.

In addition, the growing middle class in China is also driving demand for EVs. As incomes rise, more people are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and show their social status. EVs offer a way to do both.

Technological Advancements

As the demand for EVs grows, so does the need for technological advancements. In recent years, Chinese automakers have made significant progress in developing their own EV technology. Companies such as BYD, NIO, and Xpeng are leading the charge in developing high-quality, affordable EVs.

In addition, China is also investing heavily in battery technology. The country is home to some of the world’s largest battery manufacturers, such as CATL and BYD. These companies are working to develop better, more efficient batteries that can power EVs for longer distances.

Overall, the future for the EV market in China looks promising. With government support, growing demand, and technological advancements, the country is well-positioned to lead the way in the transition to greener transportation.

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Driving Success: Volkswagen Group’s Resilient Performance in 2023




In the ever-changing automotive industry, Volkswagen Group has emerged as a powerhouse, showcasing robust annual results for 2023 with a particularly strong fourth quarter. Let’s delve into the key factors that have contributed to Volkswagen’s success and analyze the implications of their performance.

Volkswagen Group’s Financial Performance in 2023:
Volkswagen Group’s financial performance in 2023 has been nothing short of impressive, with strong revenue growth and profitability. The company’s annual results reflect a strategic focus on innovation, sustainability, and operational efficiency.

Key Highlights of Volkswagen Group’s Annual Results:

  • Revenue Growth: Volkswagen Group experienced significant revenue growth in 2023, driven by strong sales across its various brands and regions.
  • Profitability: The company’s profitability metrics have shown a positive trend, indicating effective cost management and operational excellence.
  • Market Share: Volkswagen Group has maintained and even expanded its market share in key markets, solidifying its position as a global leader in the automotive industry.

Factors Contributing to Volkswagen Group’s Success:

  1. Product Innovation and Diversification:
  • Volkswagen Group’s commitment to innovation and product diversification has enabled it to meet evolving consumer demands and stay ahead of the competition.
  1. Sustainability Initiatives:
  • The company’s focus on sustainability, including electric vehicles and eco-friendly practices, has resonated well with environmentally conscious consumers.
  1. Operational Efficiency:
  • Volkswagen Group’s emphasis on operational efficiency and supply chain optimization has enhanced its competitiveness and bottom-line performance.

Analysis of Volkswagen Group’s Strong Fourth Quarter Performance:
The fourth quarter of 2023 was particularly noteworthy for Volkswagen Group, with key metrics surpassing expectations. Factors such as seasonal demand, new product launches, and strategic marketing initiatives likely played a significant role in driving this strong performance.

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Implications of Volkswagen Group’s Performance for the Automotive Industry:
Volkswagen Group’s robust performance in 2023 sends a positive signal to the automotive industry as a whole. It highlights the importance of strategic planning, innovation, and adaptability in navigating challenges and seizing opportunities in a rapidly changing market environment.

In conclusion, Volkswagen Group’s achievement of robust annual results for 2023, coupled with a strong fourth-quarter performance, underscores the company’s resilience and strategic foresight. By staying true to its core values of innovation, sustainability, and operational excellence, Volkswagen Group continues to set the benchmark for success in the automotive industry.

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