Car sales in Indonesia grew 8.2 percent (year-on-year) to 111,767 vehicles in February 2014 according to the latest data from the Association of Indonesian Automotive Manufacturers (Gaikindo). As usual, car sales were dominated by Toyota, Daihatsu (both are distributed by Astra International, one of Indonesia's largest diversified conglomerates), Mitsubishi, Suzuki and Honda. February sales were supported by the popular low-cost green car (LCGC) that was introduced on Indonesia's market in 2013.
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Indonesia remains an important sales market for Toyota, Japan's multinational corporation and one of the world's largest automobile manufacturers. In 2013, Toyota sold a total of 8.66 million cars worldwide, around 435 thousand of which were sold in Indonesia. The company which holds the exclusive right to sell Toyota units on the Indonesian market is Astra International, one of the largest diversified conglomerates in Indonesia. With a market share of 35 percent, Toyota is the dominant market leader in Indonesia's car sales market.
Indonesia's national car industry is expected to contribute IDR 44 trillion (USD $4 billion) to the country's total exports in 2014 through the export of completely built units (CBU), completely knock down units (CKU) and automotive spare parts. Exports of CBUs are estimated to rise more than 18 percent to 200,000 units in 2014, supported by increased domestic production capacity, according to Budi Darmadi, an official at Indonesia's Ministry of Industry. Darmadi declined to estimate exports of CKUs and spare parts this year.
Supported by legislative and presidential elections, car sales in Indonesia are expected to grow between five and ten percent to 1.30 million total vehicles in 2014. These elections are estimated to boost the domestic money flow due to increased economic activity in Southeast Asia's largest economy. Consumption goods such as cars and food & beverage products are expected to feel the impact of this development and may offset the negative impact brought on by the weak rupiah, high inflation and the high interest rate environment.
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Despite higher car prices due to the depreciating rupiah exchange rate, domestic car sales in Indonesia rose 11 percent to 107,496 in January 2014 compared to the same month last year. January sales were particularly supported by sales of the low cost green car (LCGC) and low multipurpose vehicle (LMPV). Both these car types enjoy high popularity in Indonesia. In 2013, the Indonesian government provided tax incentives for the establishment of a domestic LCGC industry.
Indonesia's automotive industry experienced some drastic changes in recent years. Originally regarded as a mere production hub due to cheap productions costs (particularly wages), it changed into a major car sales market as per capita GDP continues to grow and gives rise to an expanding middle class. Since 2011, domestic car sales in Indonesia have reached record highs and given that the country's per capita car ownership is still relatively low, there is room for more growth. But Indonesia is also eager to become an important car exporting country.
Indonesian car sales have already exceeded the one million mark in October 2013. In the January-October period, 1,018,786 car units were sold, a ten percent increase compared to car sales in the same period last year. Growing demand for cars in Indonesia indicates that this sector of Southeast Asia's largest economy is not influenced by current negative market sentiments, such as the sharply depreciated Indonesian rupiah exchange rate (against the US dollar), high inflation (8.32 percent yoy in October 2013), and slowing economic growth.
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