New vehicle sales in Indonesia declined by just 2.6% to 79,573 units in February 2020 from already weak year earlier sales of 81,684 units despite the growing economic threat caused by the COVID19 coronavirus, according to member wholesale data compiled by industry association Gaikindo.

In the last few weeks the government here has stepped up measures to help contain the rapid spread of the virus in the country, including ordering the closure of shopping malls and places of social and leisure activity, while international travel has been severely restricted and people are also being encouraged to work from home where possible.

Bank Indonesia has continued last year's rate cutting policy, with two 25 basis point cuts in February and March to 4.50% to help offset the negative effects of the coronavirus on the economy.

The central government also has announced additional fiscal measures in recent weeks to help support struggling businesses and consumers.

Overall vehicle sales in the first two months of 2020 were down by just 2.2% at 159,997 units from weak year earlier sales of 163,675 units with demand beginning to stablise after a more than 10% decline to 1,030,126 units in 2019.

Sales of passenger vehicles increased by 1.9% to 121,688  units in the two month period, lifted by increasingly attractive finance packages and promotional activity by dealers, while commercial vehicle sales fell by over 13% to 38,309 units.

Toyota reported a 1.3% sales decline to 49,172 units in the first two months of the year; while Daihatsu sales dropped by 3.6% to 29,951 units; Honda 24,150 units (+16.7%); Suzuki 19,125 units (+15.4%); and Mitsubishi Motors 16,990 units (-24.2%).

The seriousness of the COVID19 had not been fully accepted in the country in February, with the government only taking significant preventative action in March. The effects of the economic lockdown on the vehicle market will be more apparent in the March data.