Indonesian new vehicle sales jumped by 25.6% year-on-year in December to 39,156 units, according to distributor and industry statistician PT Toyota Astra Motor, as the market continued its recovery from the sharp drop in 2006.

Strong consumer demand, fuelled by falling interest rates, helped drive the market higher throughout the year.

The vehicle market was supported by a strong and relatively stable domestic economic environment throughout most of last year, after the turmoil of previous year when interest rates were hiked from 8% to a peak of over 12% to allow for a massive cut in fuel subsidies.

Interest rates finished the year at 8%, a benign level for Indonesia, while full-year GDP growth is expected to have been in the region of 6.5%.

The strong December performance brought the sales total to 434,449 units - 36.2% higher than the 318,910 vehicles sold in 2006. This was much more than any in the industry had hoped for at the beginning of the year.

The light passenger vehicle sector outperformed, with volume rising by 41.6% to 313,497 units compared with 221,351 in 2006. Sales of trucks and buses rose by 24% to 120,952 units, against 97,559 units in 2006.

Toyota sold 150,631 vehicles in Indonesia last year, for a market share of 34.7%. It sold a total of 62,010 units of its best-selling model, the Avanza compact MPV, and 40,169 Kijang Innova MPVs.

Other key models were the Rush compact SUV, with 14,126 sales, and the Yaris with 9,686 sales.

Toyota's Daihatsu unit - also partnered with PT Astra International, sold a total of 51,957 units, with its best-selling Xenia model - from which the Toyota Avanza is derived, selling 28,914 units. The Terios, from which the Toyota Rush is derived, sold 15,650 units.

Mitsubishi was the country's second-best selling vehicle brand last year thanks to its strength in the commercial vehicle segment. The company sold a total of 61,547 vehicles last year, with the Canter truck range accounting for almost half of that. Honda sold 40,000 passenger vehicles, with the CR-V and Jazz models its best-sellers at 15,750 and 14,057 sales respectively.

Tony Pugliese