‘All your Grandes and Civics are coffins on wheels, and local assemblers are the undertakers’: BS or not?

Mubasher Lucman claims airbags of Pakistani-assembled cars do not deploy on impact. Profit’s BS meter takes a measurement.  

Mubasher Lucman has a bone to pick, and this time it’s with the car manufacturing industry in Pakistan. The talk show host took to task local car manufacturers after the tragic death of Usama Kaira, son of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Qamar Zaman Kaira, in a road accident.

Why didn’t the car’s airbags deploy? Who checks the safety standards of vehicles in Pakistan? The car was a toyota corolla, and a top of the line model currently costs more than three-and-a-half million rupees – the highest priced vehicle in the entire region. Is this the product that so many Pakistanis are driving around in at such a cost? Where is the government and why has an FIR of criminal negligence not been registered against all local car assemblers for selling a car with faulty airbags?



All of the questions that Mr Lucman asks are important, some even need urgent answers. Profit decided to take a look at the assertions, and see how much weight there was to them.





Through a process of running the car’s plates through the Islamabad excise department to determine what the actual make and model of the car was, talking to multiple automobile experts, and determining whether there could be other reasons other than manufacturing faults behind airbags not deploying, Profit assesses Mr Lucman’s claims on its BS meter.



Mubasher Lucman made claims that the car manufacturing industry in Pakistan – every single one of them – is criminally negligent, as proven by the failed airbags in Usman Kaira’s car. But on this account he has clearly been too quick to jump the gun, because as Profit discovered, while the car involved in the accident was indeed a Toyota, it was an import, not a locally manufactured one. Ironically enough, at the start of his diatribe, Mubasher Lucman had criticised the government for erecting barriers to car imports, and leaving people with no choice but to buy what he claimed were “overpriced tin death machines.”

“The incident is tragic, but criticising the local assemblers for it is not correct. You can blame them for many other things but not in this particular case,” said Sunil Munj, an automobile expert and CEO of Pakwheels.

Furthermore, running the car through the excise department’s database showed that it had been manufactured in 2002 and registered in 2015. The registration number of the car was DS-447 with chassis number NZE-1210139916. Only the chassis number of imported cars starts with NZE. Meanwhile, car reviewers Shakaeb Khan and Omar Arshad and car dealer Syed Anjum did not just confirm that the car was an import, but guessed that the car was either Toyota Corolla Assista or Toyota Corolla Axio  – both sold only as Japanese import cars. Another assessment by Sunil Munj who was confident that the car was a Corolla X, which is also an imported vehicle. 



On the issue of any local car manufacturer being culpable in the accident that caused the deaths of Usama Kaira and his friend, Profit can safely call Total BS on its BS meter. But Mubasher Lucman on his show was making a larger argument than just this one incident, questioning the entire car manufacturing industry in Pakistan and its safety standards. He brought up a host of other tragic car accidents, such as the recent death of the wife and son of former Federal Minister Baleegh ur Rehman in a road accident.

On this issue, Profit discovered that there was no rhyme or reason to just assume that there was a safety standard problem in locally manufactured cars. This is not to say that we can be certain that locally assembled cars have airbags that always deploy, but that there is no proof that they don’t. Most cars in Pakistan don’t have airbags, and it is only the top of the line vehicles that come with this safety feature. And knowing nothing about the cars involved in the other accidents mentioned by Mr Lucman, it is a stretch to assume that it was faulty airbags that caused the deaths. More importantly, as our car experts explained, there are other reasons for airbags not to deploy. “There are two kinds of safety features that could be used in a car, namely primary restraint (seatbelts) and secondary restraint (airbags). In a lot of cars, airbags do not function until the seatbelts are in use.” Not only could this be a possibility, but in imported cars, such as the one that was in the crash, there is always the possibility that the car was imported from Japan after it had already been in an accident. Often times importers do not replace airbags when the car arrives because they are at no pains to do so.

Another issue is that airbags in Pakistan are ridiculously expensive. Being imported parts, airbags have a high duty on them and many simply forgo installing airbags in imported cars for this reason. To their credit, the local car manufacturing industry has shown its concern for safety in the past, such as when Honda offered free airbag replacements and upgrades to its customers a couple of years ago. Toyota recently did the same, recalling for service more than a thousand Altis Grandes they had shipped from 2015-16.





As far as Usama Kaira’s death is concerned, while safety standards can always be improved, Mubasher Lucman’s claim that local car manufacturers are in some way criminally negligent in the deaths of Kaira and his friend are a Total BS on Profit’s BS meter. However, the claim that local manufacturers somehow don’t have fully functioning airbags is unsubstantiated, and, therefore, has a high rating on Profit’s BS meter.


Research by: Bilal Hussain and Zaman Khan

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  1. Wow what an assessment of sheer shame. Plz first school yourself then comment. Mubisher is spot on. Rather he should have been HARDER !

  2. This is the stupidest piece I Have ever read. The broader argument is NOT “Profit discovered that there was no rhyme or reason to just assume that there was a safety standard problem in locally manufactured cars. This is not to say that we can be certain that locally assembled cars have airbags that always deploy, but that there is no proof that they don’t.”, the broader argument is about the lack of modern safety standard in our cars, apart from the very top of the line ones, which is due to the non-competitive and rent-seeking nature of this automobile oligopoly. I mean how are we as a nation okay with the fact k an ordinary sedan (Corolla) didn’t have airbags for a LONG, LONG time.

    Kisko chay bna rhy ho bhai???

  3. First of all car was not Top of Line Corolla Grande it was Toyota Corolla X which is Japanese Model 2nd point is it does not cost 3.5 Million it just cost 1.5 to 2 million 3rd is there are several requirements of Opening Airbags. The basic requirement for opening Airbags is Wearing Seat Belt (Which is a major mistake we do) if one does not wear proper seat belt Airbags will not Open at any cost 4th Requirement is there is several speed at which if a car hits then Airbag can open. Being a ordinary Car Driver i know these basics and rest other necessities are those we need to understand.

  4. I fully concur with the possibility of not wearing seat belt by the deceased as in general people in our part of the World have remotest idea of safety. The TV anchors are like Touts of vested interest, they are sell outs. Very few anchors are honest, this I can say with proof. I am Engineer myself who knows engines and machinery very well. I work abroad but always favoured locally assembled automobiles as this produces jobs in Pakistan and also saves the precious foreign exchange. Please forgive me on hard words on anchors, as majority of them are not honest and lack professional approach to discuss any specialized technical topic of this sort

  5. First of all Air bags. PAMA a Japanese affiliate JAMA established to promote Japanese brand popular brands/models of RHD from Dubai, Sharjah shipped to Karachi with an invoice, and related document of the used auto to Pakistani ports on a gift undertaking of a labourer to gift the car to his/her family in Pakistan. Usually I noticed an Airbag is a luxury with a price tag make it expensive. Worldwide Airbag is an essential need by which no car/auto can leave the factory with a tested airbag. The biggest Airbag manufacturer in the world is was a Japanese Takata Corporation., with Mr. Shigehisa Takada as Chairperson/CEO of Takata Corporation.Tokyo. Airbag is the foremost essential need for the safety of a car, as per recommendations of the United Nations/WHO recommendations of Road Safety Commission. In the name of Allah lets pray for the innocent Usama Kaira who may bear the status Shaheed. Pakistan has no standard at all for Road Safety which kills hundreds of thousands of innocent pedestrians while crossing the road, where all foot path are encroached by street vendors. There is no Bicycle Track alongside the roads for people to use bicycles exclusively. The VVIP’s as Lady Mayor of the Paris, France Muncipality comes to her office on bicycle, or bus. Pakistan customs is not aware of the road safety standards essential for car/auto as Airbag, Seat belt, Collission Avoidance, Accident avoidance, and hundreds of engineering marvels which are deployed by Chinese manufacturer to prevent accident all digital devices and cheap. Now when these cars on road are scrap which are polluting, with smoke, with no digital compliant for accident prevention, collission avoidance, which are in all Fully automated Cars in China, Germany, Japan, Europe, but not in Pakistan. Pakistan should buy modular cards, interface for safety in car, buses,truks, and should have bicycle track for men, women and should be protected by police. The entire traffic can be monitored by satellites, drones monitoring, and taking photo graphs, and making challans automatically if there is a voilation, then instantly the message will be sent in the car. Very soon before the end of 2019 you will see the driverless cars from Uber, Careem on the streets of Karachi which will have zero accident. To our friend drivers, please learn road safety lessons.

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