Europe’s leading bus manufacturing company, Volvo, has seen potential in the Pakistani transport industry and plans to re-enter the market very soon. Back in the 1980s, Volvo used to have a relationship with the Pakistani government in the transport sector. Volvo’s previous venture, however, didn’t work out and the company left the market, accusing the government of not paying enough attention to its roads.
The transport network and the associated industry seem to be making a lot of news these days and the latest development has led to Volvo declaring its new-found love for the Pakistani transport market. After more than three decades, Volvo Pakistan Limited (VPL) is seriously considering to cater to the needs of the market.
Chief Executive Officer of Volvo Pakistan Limited, Mr. Waqar Asghar, says that the company will be providing luxury buses for road transportation. The success of the project will depend on consumer feedback and Volvo will decide on future expansion plans based on the same factor.
Volvo will be producing 50 units per year, which will be targeted towards the organised intercity bus operators, who can afford the expense of adding new Volvo buses to their existing fleet.
Waqar Asghar said “We are sure that the comfort a Volvo bus provides to travellers will force operators to induct these buses.” He added that, “The decision to introduce Volvo bus in Pakistan is based on some important factors; the growing road-transportation network and the consumer power to spend on luxury travel.” He states that the on-going construction of the Lahore-Karachi Motorway is another major factor towards an increase in demand for quality bus services.
VPL is a subsidiary of the Panasian Group, a supplier of Volvo. It supplies for trucks, construction equipment, Sunwin buses and some other products to the Pakistani market.
Back in the 80s, the Swedish government gifted Pakistan a total of 660 buses to upgrade the urban transport sector. Panasian Group played a major part in the grant, provided consultancy and route planning to the Punjab Road Transport Corporation. The project started facing mismanagement issues in the 90s and eventually all of the buses were disposed off due to lack of technical support.
Volvo has been involved in some recent government projects as well. The company has supplied 134 buses for the Metro Bus Projects in Lahore and Rawalpindi. It will also supply 35 buses for the Multan project.
As far as the local transport businesses are concerned, Daewoo Express is the only company interested in buying from Volvo. Daewoo has ordered 10 buses from Volvo to grow its current fleet. Most buses in Daewoo’s fleet were imported from Korea and this would be the first time the company is looking elsewhere for its vehicles.
Mr. Asghar said that “Once demand touches 300 buses per annum, we will consider investing in the establishment of an assembly line for Volvo buses in Pakistan.”