New vehicle sales in Indonesia fell by 19.6% in January to 34,167 units, according to industry-wide wholesale data released by distributor PT Toyota Astra Motor.

That was the first annualised decline since early 2007, when the market was severely affected by massive fuel price hikes as the government dramatically cut subsidies.

The industry expected January's sales decline to be the first in a long series, as it braced for a sales drop of 25-30% this year to around 400,000-450,000 units - from a record 608,000 in 2008 - as consumers come under increasing pressure from credit tightening, and rising unemployment while domestic growth and exports weaken.

Toyota reported a sales decline of just 1.2% in January, from 13,713 to 13,551 units. This gave the brand a market share of 39.7%, from 32.3% a year earlier.

The individual model performances were very mixed, however. Deliveries of the Avanza compact MPV rose by 31% to 7,235 units in January to account for over half the brand's sales. Deliveries of the Innova full-size MPV declined by more than 30% to 2,312 units.

Tony Pugliese