Words: Torsa Tarannum
Torsa Tarannum converses with Akther Parvez, Managing Director of PHP Automobile ltd. and learns about his visions of making affordable car available in Bangladesh.
Our cars on our roads” Where did you find the motivation to take on such a challenge in our cars ?
Akther Parvez: We have been on the road for many years with old cars. For a long time, I have been feeling the urge to write the name of Bangladesh in the list of countries producing cars by handing over new cars made in the country. Whose real reflection is in front of everyone today. I have been working continuously for the automobile sector for the last 5 years. I got a good partner in this regard. A few years ago, Malaysian President Mahathir Mohamed came to the UITS Convocation in Chottogram. Later he returned to the country to find out about my father, Sufi Mohammad Mizanur Rahman. They have studied the scope of business of the PHP family. After that, an invitation was given to my father to visit PROTON Factory in Malaysia.
Tell us about your experience in manufacturing cars in Malaysia .
Akther Parvez: After moving to Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamed says; to first take a look at the automobile industry. I was wondering why he was sending us on such a visit? After factory inspection, he proposed to set up the automobile industry in Bangladesh. The father said he had no idea about the sector. “Our business is for glass, Steel and other products,” he said. Mahathir Mohammed said he would cooperate specially in this regard. From that day it was the beginning of our interest.
What is your goal ?
Akther Parvez: PHP Automobile is working with a target of generating 1200 cars a year. We are working hard to achieve this goal by 2022. ‘Made in Bangladesh cars to be on the streets of the country’ – it’s not a slogan, it’s a promise.
How do you manage such a huge operation ?
Akther Parvez: We have received technical assistance from Malaysia for land selection, land purchase, design, construction, and car industry. We have also received assistance from local architects. We realized after starting the car making process, that the cost was high. Because we are bringing machinery from Malaysia and summing it up. In the beginning, the tariff structure was not favorable to production. Seeking government help in this regard is available quite swiftly. In this way, we can sell cars worthTk 18 lakh (1332 cc) for Tk 14 lakh 99 thousand.
How do you ensure customer service ?
Akther Parvez: Several initiatives are taken to ensure customer service. In the event of a vehicle being damaged in an accident, we will provide the customer with an alternative vehicle to use until the car is repaired. Apart from this, 5 free servicing services are provided for the maintenance of new cars. Sales of ‘brand new’ cars have increased due to increasing awareness among the people of the country.
There are three service centers in Chottogram to serve after-sales customers. Besides, two Showrooms and Service Centers have been opened at Kakrail and Tejgaon Ring Road in Dhaka. A servicing center is being set up in Baridhara.We have recently started operation in Sylhet. Besides we have also establish call center where any individual can call this hotline number (01887-900800). In addition, our customers will get car service from 11 centers in Rahim Afroz nationwide.
Akther Parvez: Giving training to engineers and vehicle mechanics in various districts of the country. We provide customer service as soon as possible to ensure after-sales service. If consumers want to buy a car on a down payment, we will hand over the keys to them for a payment of Tk 7.5 lakh. Customers can adjust the rest of the money through bank loans. Engine related issues are being resolved quickly. Not a repair, but a direct replacement guarantee is given. In view of this, the future of our car made in the country is very bright.
Tell me about the government’s cooperation.
Akther Parvez: The government has a role to play in increasing the sales of cars. We are calling on the government to mention the name of Bangladesh in the Country of Origin option in the tender document to take part in the government tender.
Akther Parvez: Apart from producing cars, there are opportunities for exporting as well. Under the SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade Area) agreement, we have the opportunity to export proton cars to Nepal. Because there are dealers of this brand. Nepal has to import cars using Mumbai or Chottogram ports. So if our policymakers consider this,we can use this opportunity. Besides, Nepal will also be able to import cars at lower prices with the opportunity of SAFTA. This will create an international market for cars made in Bangladesh.
How are the daily activities of the factory going ?
Akther Parvez: PHP factory is set up in the city’s suburbs. Liveliness has returned to the market where sales have increased. The factory’s 258 engineers and technical staff are extremely occupied. More than eight thousand parts and equipment were added to their hands. Each car is then built. Now, 12 SAGA are assembled in one day. Two years ago PHP started marketing ‘Proton Preve’ model cars.
How much response did PHP get in the motor fest ?
Akther Parvez: We have been inspired by the huge response to Motor Fest which ran from November 25th to 30th. We have also highlighted the positive aspects of cars made in the country in front of customers. Any Motor Fest gives us the opportunity to meet our respected clients face to face and demonstrate our vehicle physically exploring all the features of our Brand New Proton SAGA.