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NEW UPDATES Asean Affairs  26 March  2015  

Japan car makers expand in Indonesia on weak rupiah

THE rupiah’s descent to a 17-year low is building the case for Japanese auto makers to focus on rolling out cheaper, locally made sedans and multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs), rather than fighting for a bigger slice of Indonesia’s languid market for imported cars.

At just under 7,600 units, Indonesian car imports came in below 10,000 in February for the 11th consecutive month, the latest data from Indonesian auto association Gaikindo shows.

That’s less than 10 per cent of overall new car sales. Imported cars are losing their appeal as the rupiah plunges to its weakest against the dollar since the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s and as Southeast Asia’s largest economy grows at a slacker pace.

The lacklustre import sales are a signal to overseas manufacturers such as Toyota Motor Corp, Nissan Motor Co Ltd and Mitsubishi Motors Corp to speed up their local expansion plans and sell cheaper models in a market they see as a pillar of their emerging market sales.

Japanese car manufacturers, facing a lack of growth at home, have big plans for Indonesia, which has surpassed Thailand as Southeast Asia’s largest auto market.

Japanese companies are betting on the long-term prospects in the world’s fourth-most populous nation and are willing to ride out what they see as a temporary slump in sales.

Monthly domestic sales, while off the highs of more than 100,000 units in the first half of 2014, are still twice the volume seen during the lows of the 2008 global crisis.

PT Honda Prospect Motor, the official distributor for Honda Motors Co Ltd in Indonesia, expects sales to fall in the first half of 2015, but will maintain monthly production of 14,000-15,000 in anticipation of a pick-up in the second half, Jonfis Fandy, marketing and after-sales service director, told Reuters.

Mitsubishi is spearheading a US$600 million investment in Indonesia.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More






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