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January 12, 2009

Indonesia’s car sales seen down 30% in 2009
Indonesia's domestic vehicle sales are expected to fall 30 percent in 2009 from a record high in 2008, due to tight domestic liquidity and slower economic growth, Reuters quoted PT Toyota Astra Motor as saying.

Most automotive sales in Indonesia are financed by loans. Business has been hurt as interest rates peaked late last year and as banks and finance companies became less willing to lend amid a global financial crisis.

"Liquidity in the market has gone, or is very, very limited," said Johnny Darmawan, president director of Toyota Astra, in an interview on Indonesia's Metro TV.

Toyota Astra is the distributor of Toyota cars in Indonesia and the market leader in the Southeast Asia's biggest economy.

Darmawan said that total domestic vehicle sales from all makes reached an estimated 607,000-608,000 units last year, the highest annual volume, but warned that the situation would deteriorate this year.

"In 2009 it will be very tough, I think a 30 percent drop is possible," he said.

Indonesia's economy is expected to grow by 5 percent in 2009, slowing down from 6.2 percent in 2008.

Indonesia's central bank, Bank Indonesia, cut its benchmark interest rate BIPG by a bigger-than-expected 50 basis points to 8.75 percent this week in an attempt to spur economic growth.

But typically commercial lenders are slower to pass on the lower interest rates to borrowers.

Toyota Astra is jointly owned by Japan's Toyota Motor and Indonesia's largest automotive distributor, PT Astra International Tbk.

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