Vehicle sales in Indonesia rose sharply in March, to 33,905 units – 42% more than the 23,812 units sold in February and 26% more than the 26,833 units sold a year earlier.

The market has rebounded strongly from the sharp slow-down in buying activity and delivery delays in February, caused by the severe flooding that affected most of the capital city and surrounding areas.

Lending rates have also been lowered significantly over the last nine months, with the inter-bank lending rate now standing at 9% compared with 12% in July 2006. This has helped improve consumer purchasing power and attract more buyers into the market.

First quarter sales amounted to 84,511 units, a 6.4% rise compared with the 79,413 vehicles sold in the same period of last year. The market has responded strongly to the launch of the new Daihatsu Terios and the Toyota Rush derivative at the end of last year, with combined sales in the first two months of 2007 amounting to 3,999 units – or 8% of the total vehicle market.

Toyota delivered 12,908 vehicles to dealers in March, for a market share of over 38%, and 30,477 units in the first quarter. The new Vios compact saloon, fitted with a 1.5-litre engine, was launched in April – imported fully assembled from Thailand. The company has set a sales target of 5,000 units for the new model this year.

The Indonesian market is attracting renewed interest from new players, with several Chinese and Indian manufacturers known to be actively seeking local partners. Also, Proton opened three dealers in Jakarta in March and began selling its Gen2 compact car and the Savvy small hatchback. Proton re-entered this market last August, when it began to deliver the Wira compact car to taxi firms in the country. By the end of February, it had sold a total of 590 units.

Tony Pugliese