As far as emerging markets go, Indonesia is one of the hottest. “The country of 240 million people bought one million cars last year, and sales by some estimates are expected to double over the next three years,” says Reuters. The only trouble: Most of the cars are and will be Toyotas. GM wants to do something about it with a no-frill people mover designed in Brazil.
Priced at 139.7 million rupiah ($14,360), the Chevrolet Spin hit showrooms in Indonesia in early May, and was an instant success. “In June, GM sold 1,294 Spin vans, powering the company to sell a total of 1,761 cars that month. While still small, the volume was respectable compared to the company’s annual volume of 5,277 cars last year,” says Reuters. “But GM is still miles behind its Japanese rivals.”
“We started in Indonesia in 1938. We have been so successful, we have seven-tenths of a point of market share in 75 years. Are you kidding me?” Tim Lee, head of GM’s international operations, told Reuters. “That is not constancy of purpose.”
Japanese automakers have more than 90 percent of the 1.1 million unit market that is expected to grow another 10 percent this year. More than half of the cars are made by Toyota companies. Toshiyuki Shiga, COO of Nissan, calls Indonesia the “Toyota Republic.”
GM’s Spin is assembled in a reopened plant that GM had shuttered in 2005. Even at full capacity of 40,000 Spins, it would make only a small dent into the market.
Developed by GM’s Brazil engineering center on a Gamma platform, the seven seater, three row people mover is powered by a 1.8 liter EconoFlex engine, and it is targeted at emerging markets. GM started shipping some of its Indonesia-made Spin cars to Thailand this month and expects to start exporting them to the Philippines next month.