Even as Indian carmakers debate over the feasibility of being able to produce a people's car for Rs 1 lakh, Pakistan has gone ahead and stolen a march over them, said a report in Pakistan's Daily Times.
Habib Maritime, a subsidiary of the Habib Group of Pakistan, will soon unveil its 'Sitara,' a Rs 1.26 lakh (about 100,000 Indian rupees) four-seater, 170 cc car that can attain a top speed of 60 km per hour.
Sitara is likely to be introduced into the Pakistan auto market by Habib Maritime within the next two to three months, according to Asif Rasheed, mechanical engineer at Habib Maritime and a member of the team which designed the car, said the Daily Times report.
"It will be a replacement of motorbikes with a higher level of safety," Rasheed was quoted by Daily Times as saying. He said the car would be launched simultaneously in all major cities across Pakistan.
The Sitara has no roof or doors and looks like a golf cart-jeep hybrid. But looks apart, the low cost of the car is likely to make most two-wheeler drivers graduate to a four-wheeler and might spark off a boom in Pakistan's auto market.
A source at the ministry of science and technology confirmed that the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority has approved standard specifications for four-wheelers that will be known as City Carts. The authority has given permission for the engine size to range from 170cc to 300 cc so the manufacturers may introduce further designs with bigger engines in time to come, said Daily Times.
He said the company was still working on how the car would be marketed and advertised and did not say when it was to be introduced, reported the Daily Times.
Giving details of the car, Daily Times said Sitara is to include parts almost entirely designed and manufactured locally. The engine is being manufactured in Lahore. The car, which, once fitted with equipment will not exceed 400 kilograms in weight, will have a load-bearing capacity of 250 kilograms. The capacity of the fuel tank will be 10 liters and consumption will be 18 kilometers per liter. The maximum speed allowed will be 60 km/hour.
The ministry of science and technology has approved the design with standard requirements in vehicle designing for road safety.
Daily Times said that the project was initiated and financed by a businessman of a prominent local group who floated the idea of a light-weight four-seater with a motorbike engine after observing an accident of a family on a motorbike.
In India, the Tatas are said to be the closest to launching a low-cost people's car, but the company has said that it would take three years for the Rs 1-lakh car to hit the road.
"The Rs 1-lakh car is being developed by us. It will hit the road in three years," Tata group Chairman Ratan Tata said recently.
The proposed peoples' car would not be a stripped down version of any existing car. Rather, it would be a ground-breaking experience for Tata Motors, he said.