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Bangladesh on four wheels

  • Published at 12:41 pm March 6th, 2016
Bangladesh on four wheels

Bangladesh is a small country in South Asia. “A country of huge possibilities” is a sentiment shared by many regarding Bangladesh. Many foreign investors have deemed Bangladesh a country of safe investment. Which is why it’s somewhat surprising that the biggest void we currently have is the lack of an automobile industry.

The automobile industry is currently one of the most important in the world. Though the industry was birthed in the US and Germany, Japan and China are now the countries which are home to the world’s largest automotive industries, with many other nations pitching in with their own unique contributions.

The demand for automobiles in Bangladesh is rising with each passing day. Since there is no official automotive industry in the country, we have to import cars from abroad by paying hefty amounts in taxes. The situation could have been radically different if we could claim to possess an automobile industry of any strength. The middle class Bangladeshi could buy cars at reasonable prices, it could generate significant levels of employment, not to mention the good it would do to our economy.

Despite the lack of any local car manufacturers, a state-run company named Pragoti Industries Limited has been manufacturing vehicles for Japanese company Mitsubishi at a low rate. Also worth noting is the budding motorbike manufacturing industry that’s taking shape in Bangladesh. Since two-stroke engine vehicles were banned in the country, the demand for motorbikes has seen a sizeable spike.

More than 80% of all cars in Bangladesh are coming in from Japan. To keep the situation in check, the government has barred the import of cars which are older than four years from the manufacturing date and also surcharged the taxes on import of new cars to discourage the importing of reconditioned cars.

To date, the automotive market in our country has been dominated by Japanese, Korean, Chinese, German, and Indian companies. Now, if an automotive industry were to be made space for here in Bangladesh, the possibilities for development would be endless.

Despite the lack of a formal industry, there are a few individuals who have been working in the automobile making sector. There’s Leepu Nizamuddin Awlia, whom I came to know about all the way back in 1998. He’s always had a dream of making cars, and in 2002, he made a limousine all by himself using local material. Leepu is still making cars by himself today. The Discovery Channel also broadcasted a TV show on him called Bangla Bangers, which showed how a man can turn a wrecked, abandoned car into a supercar.

Then there is Amir Hossain in Bogra, yet another man of automotive magic. The people of Bogra address him as “gari bananor biggyani” (the scientist of making cars). He made a car which runs on an electric turbine. A fully electricity-run car made by a Bangladeshi. Yes, you read that right. According to Amir, such a car can be manufactured for as little as Tk1.5 lakh.

Amir has also made cars which run on an air turbine system, another which runs on CNG, or even cow dung! Amir Hossain is a true national talent. Using Amir Hossain’s methods, many countries such as Sweden, Italy, and KSA have shown interest in manufacturing cars in similar fashion.

Apart from these names, there are many other hobbyists and enthusiasts with a penchant for building cars. But the sad thing is, despite being home to such talented folk like Amir Hossain and Leepu, we lack any semblance of one day having a thriving automotive industry. But the obstacles standing in our way are rather apparent.

Due to the near perpetual political unrest of our country, investors are rightfully hesitant in placing any faith on the automotive field in Bangladesh. Moreover, there are no proper facilities for those savvy folk who are interested in setting up an automotive industry in Bangladesh. If we can overcome these obstacles, and numerous others, Bangladesh can also be home to a thriving automotive industry. 

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