Toyotas FT1 concept is a show highlight

Toyota's FT1 concept is a show highlight

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The 2014 Indonesia international motor show got under way this week with a renewed sense of self-confidence and purpose, as the domestic market continued to reach new record highs.

New vehicle sales increased by almost 5% to 831,510 units in the first eight months of 2014, making it south-east Asia’s largest market for the first time ahead of neighbouring Thailand. Full year sales are expected to approach 1.3m units in 2014.

The market has proved to be very resilient in the face of a moderate slowdown in economic growth this year and higher interest rates. New model activity over the last year or so has been intense, especially in the small car segment where several new low-cost green cars (LCGCs) have helped underpin the overall market.

Fewer new models made their market debuts at this year’s show, particularly models in the high-volume segments. Prijono Sugiarto, president-director at Astra International – the country’s largest vehicle distributor - expects sales to be flat next year.

Given the lack of key new models launches to inspire the market, the industry will perhaps be more than happy with a repeat of this year’s record sales volumes. With fuel prices on the rise and urban congestion growing, new momentum in the domestic economy will be needed to drive volumes significantly higher from here. 

Toyota took its place at the centre of the main hall, featuring a broad range of models launched earlier this year including the Yaris, Altis and Vios passenger cars. Also on display was the stunning FT1 sports car concept, as well as its fuel cell vehicle (FCV) and the FT2.

The only model to make its market debut was the RAV4 SUV which is imported CBU from Japan.

Sister company Daihatsu was also big on concepts with the seven-seat compact UFC-3 people-carrier and the new SUV concept providing a taste of things to come in this market. The UFC-3 in particular, based on a car platform, gives a good indication of where Daihatsu intends to take the all-important small MPV segment when its replaces the ageing Xenia and Avanza models.

The UFC also on display is seen as a thinly veiled version of the next generation Alza, due out in the local market perhaps in 2016 or 2017. Daihatsu did not launch any actual new models at the show, however.

Suzuki’s large stand at the entrance of the main hall reflects its status as one of the top four auto brands in Indonesia. Taking centre-stage was the new WagonR GS, a revamped variant of the company’s 1,000cc low-cost green car. 

Also making its Indonesia debut was the Thai-made Celerio small car, which the company expects to launch early next year.

Suzuki is also scheduled to launch a revamped version of its aging APV small MPV at the show on Saturday (20 September). This is a key model for the brand across Asia and is expected to help improve overall sales.

Honda launched the small crossover SUV, the HR-V, which it will source from its plant in Thailand. The model goes on sale in January and is offered with a choice of 1.5- and 1.8-litre engines, priced at between IDR280m and IDR250m.

Mitsubishi Motors followed up this week’s announcement of a US$600m spend on a new assembly plant in Indonesia, with the launch of the new Delica MPV - which it imports from Japan.

Mitsubishi is expected to develop and produce a new range of compact MPVs for the region, with production scheduled to start at the new facility in 2017.

Nissan launched the redesigned Xtrail SUV at the show, an important model that is produced at its local assembly plant in Kawarang, east of Jakarta.

Mazda launched the redesigned 2 [Demio] at the show with deliveries scheduled to begin in November. The car is imported CBU from Thailand where production for Australia, ASEAN markets and Oceania has just started. Mazda does not have an Indonesian local assembly plant which means it relies entirely on imports here.

Chevrolet could add little to its arsenal in its struggle for market share against the mainstream Japanese automakers. It showcased the recently launched diesel version of the Spin, a compact MPV assembled at its resurrected plant in Bekasi since the end of 2012. 

Fiat-Chrysler made a big splash at the show, with the Giulietta the focal point of the relaunch of the Alfa Romeo brand in the country. The model was perhaps overshadowed by the beautifully-designed 4C sports car, however. 

The Fiat brand was relaunched in Indonesia last year with the iconic Cinquecento the only model made available so far.

In the luxury segment, Mercedes-Benz launched the new C-class and GLA models and displayed the new GL full-sized SUV which it began assembling locally earlier this year. BMW launched the X4 SUV which shared the limelight with the stunning i8 sports concept.