The state-owned Pragoti Industries has begun assembling double-cabin pickups for the first time in the country.
While many public sector commercial firms have been counting losses, the car assembly and car parts manufacturing company looks to double its profits from the sales of such types of pickups.
Pragoti expects to earn about Tk8 lakh in profit through the assembly of each pickup. At present, the country has a demand of about 6,000 units annually.
On November 11 this year, prior to going into commercial production in March 2020, Pragoti began assembling three Mitsubishi L-200 model double-cabin pickups on a trial basis under a pilot project.
Kaykobad Al Mamun, deputy chief engineer (factory chief) of Pragoti Industries Ltd, told The Business Standard, "A team of foreign experts, including some from Japan, has been involved with the process of assembling double cabin pickups."
The company has a business opportunity of around Tk100 crore annually and for this it needs to invest only Tk1.5 crore.
Last year, 11,000 single and double-cabin pickups were assembled in the country. The demand for double-cabin pickups was about 6,000 in that year, according to the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA).
In the last fiscal year, Pragoti sold 700 units of double cabin pickups of the Japanese brand Mitsubishi to different government organizations after importing completely built units from the manufacturing firm directly. Later they were handed over to the purchasing firm.
The engines of Mitsubishi L-200 model double-cabin pickups, which are being assembled by Pragoti, are similar to those of Pajero QX model SUVs now being assembled by Pragoti.
The engines of both vehicles are of 2,447CC. Therefore, Pragoti will not require any extra cost to assemble the pickups. All it needs is to import only some machinery from Japan.
Officials at Pragoti's engineering department said it will be enough if they can set up machinery worth a maximum of Tk1.5 crore.
At present, an L-200 double cabin pickup costs around Tk48 lakh.
Kaykobad, deputy chief engineer of Pragoti, said, "Each of the assembled pickups will not cost more than Tk40 lakh. Thus, a big amount of government money will be saved."
Pragoti Industries earned around Tk734 crore from sales of cars in the last fiscal year.
After depositing Tk432 crore to the government exchequer, the state-owned company made a net profit of over Tk101 crore in the last fiscal year.
The demand for this kind of pickup is high in different government projects. But as the pickups are not assembled in the country at present, various government and private organizations are purchasing such vehicles from diverse sources through tenders.
Pragoti Industries can meet a big portion of the country's demand by assembling double cabin pickups, according to Pragoti sources.
Pragoti Industries Ltd has already signed an agreement with Mitsubishi Motors to this effect. As part of the deal, 1,200 units of L-200 pickups must be assembled in the first year, followed by another 2,000 units in the second year.
Meanwhile, a four-member team of Mitsubishi is in Chattogram to assess the quality of 12 units of L-200 model double cabin pickups which have been brought for assembling on a trial basis.
On October 29, Pragoti opened letters of credit for another 20 units of CKD (knock-down kit required for assembling) vehicles for use at the trial assembly stage.
A separate team has been providing hands-on training to Pragoti engineers since November 11.