Japanese automobile company Mitsubishi Motors Corporation will help the state-owned Pragoti Industries Limited to manufacture Bangladeshi branded vehicles.
Moreover, Mitsubishi is also interested in manufacturing buses, trucks, and pickup trucks jointly with Bangladesh.
A Mitsubishi delegation led by Tatsuo Sato, vice president of the Mitsubishi Motor Corporation, on Wednesday offered its assistance to Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun in a meeting held at the ministry.
The Mitsubishi delegation said Bangladesh has huge opportunities to capitalise on in the automobile industry. Developing this industry will cause significant growth in employment.
Additionally, it is possible to expand the backward linkage industry and manufacture cars without importing parts from abroad, they said.
They urged the government to make an investment-friendly automobile industry policy to attract foreign investors including Mitsubishi.
At present, Mitsubishi and Pragoti are manufacturing Mitsubishi Pajero Sports CR-45 and the L-200 microbus under a joint venture.
At the meeting, Industries Minister Humayun said the current government is providing all kinds of policy support to the development of the automobile industry in order to generate more employment.
"A draft policy has already been prepared to increase domestic and foreign investment in the automobile industry. Stakeholders' opinions are being taken into consideration to make this policy investment-friendly. Mitsubishi may also give their opinion on the matter," he added.
After the meeting, the industries minister told the journalists, "Very soon we will sign a contract with Mitsubishi. We want to run the whole process of manufacturing cars, including making parts, in our country. Cars made in Bangladesh might hit the roads within 2021."
When asked if Bangladesh has plans to export cars abroad, the minister replied, "Our first priority is to meet our local demand. If we succeed in doing that, then stakeholders will decide whether they want to export cars or not."
Managing Director of Pragoti Industries Limited Md Touhiduzzaman and Chairman of the Bangladesh Steel and Engineering Corporation Shiekh Md Mizanur Rahman were also present at the meeting.
Recent activities of Pragoti clearly shows that it has good chances to grow if it gets enough domestic and foreign investment.
The state-owned company has begun assembling double-cabin pickup trucks for the first time in Bangladesh.
While many public sector commercial firms have been counting losses, the car assembly and car parts manufacturing company is looking to double its profits from the sales of such vehicles.
The company has an opportunity to earn around Tk100 crore annually and for this it needs to invest only Tk1.5 crores, an engineer working for Pragoti told The Business Standard last month.
Last year, 11,000 single and double-cabin pickup trucks were assembled by Pragoti, while that for double-cabin pickup trucks was about 6,000, according to the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority.
Last year, Pragoti sold 700 units of Mitsubishi double cabin pickups to different government organisations after importing completely built units from the manufacturing firm directly.
In the previous fiscal year, Pragoti Industries earned around Tk734 crore from sales of cars and made a net profit of over Tk101 crore.
On November 11 this year, Pragoti began assembling three Mitsubishi L-200 model double-cabin pickups on a trial basis under a pilot project. It is expected to go into commercial production in March 2020.