New vehicle sales in Indonesia fell 13% to 71,263 units in May 2024 from 82,097 units a year earlier, according to automotive industry association Gaikindo.

The market had been in decline for almost a year after rebounding strongly in the previous two years from the pandemic lows. Bank Indonesia hiked its benchmark interest rate again in April, by 25 basis points to 6.25%, up from 3.5% two years ago, pointing to the need to support the weakening rupiah.

Economic growth was 5% year on year in the first quarter of 2024 with household spending picking up ahead of the annual Eid celebrations while government spending surged ahead of the February general election.

Vehicle sales in the first five months of the year fell 21% to 334,969 units from 423,404 a year ago, with sales of passenger vehicles falling 18% to 262,332 units while commercial vehicle sales plunged 30% to 72,637.

Toyota sales fell 23% to 104,338 units year to date (YTD) while Daihatsu deliveries were down 13% at 70,467 units, Honda 39,971 units (-37%), Mitsubishi 30,091 (-11%) and Suzuki 28,549 units (-15).

Vehicle production fell 21% to 466,230 units YTD while exports of assembled vehicles dropped 12% to 179,764 units.

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The government last month said it was targeting 50,000 battery electric vehicle (BEV) sales in 2024, despite wholesale deliveries amounting to just 9,280 units YTD.

At the beginning of the year, the government extended the sales tax discount (from 11% to 1%) on BEVs with a minimum 40% local content until the end of 2024 to stimulate demand and help attract inward investment.

It also suspended import duty on BEVs until the end of 2025 for companies investing in local production.

Chinese brands increasingly dominate the BEV this segment with low cost models. The best seller is the 38kWh Wuling Binguo small car priced from IDR317m (US$19,950), with 3,542 deliveries YTD.

Other key players include Chery with the Omoda E5, Hyundai with the Ioniq 5 and SAIC Motor with the MG ZS EV.

China’s BYD and Vietnam’s VinFast have also launched local sales operations in the country and have pledged to invest in local production.

Local distributor Indomobil said it was on schedule to launch the GAC Aion Y Plus in July, while Hyundai planned to begin production of a smaller BEV model later this year powered by batteries produced at its local joint venture plant with LG Energy Solution.