The Truth About Cars » Asia http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 18 Apr 2014 22:58:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Asia http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: How The Chinese Are Setting Themselves For Success (Part 4: Asia) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/best-selling-cars-around-the-globe-how-the-chinese-are-setting-themselves-for-success-part-4-asia/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/best-selling-cars-around-the-globe-how-the-chinese-are-setting-themselves-for-success-part-4-asia/#comments Thu, 06 Jun 2013 13:50:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=491046

This is Part 4 of a 5 Part-series about how the Chinese car manufacturers are faring abroad.

You can check out Part 1 about Africa herePart 2 about Latin America here and Part 3 about Eastern Europe here.

In the first 3 parts of this series we have observed that Chinese carmakers have managed their expansion into Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe by securing less developed markets and using them as anchor points for a more widespread presence in these regions. In this context it’s interesting to note that in their own ‘backyard’, Asia, the same strategy has not been met with the same success, with only a handful of small markets in the region ‘cracked’ so far..

Chery QQ. Picture by Ryusuke IkedaChery QQ in Yangon, Myanmar

In Myanmar, as the market becomes normalized, all 1,000 Chery QQ imported by the Ministry of Industry sold out within a week last December in spite of seeing their original price more than double once various duties, taxes and licensing fees were added. The QQ is now a common sight in the main city in the country, Yangoon, mainly as taxis.

Chery M1 in Luang Prabang, Laos, January 2011.

Laos is the only other South-East Asian market where the Chinese seem to be enjoying very healthy sales, with the Chery M1, QQ & Tiggo, JAC Tongyue and BYD F0 all noticed in the streets of Luang Prabang my dear Mum and Dad during their last trip there in January 2011.

Pyeonghwa SamchunriThe Pyeonghwa Samchunri should be the best-selling vehicle in North Korea.

Neighbor North Korea is potentially the market in the world where the Chinese dominate the most, thanks to government links between the two countries. I estimate this based on the observation of rare videos of the streets of the capital Pyongyang. Local manufacturer Pyeonghwa assembles under license the Samchunri (aka Jinbei Haise) which should be the best-seller in the country, Brilliance BS4, FSV and Huanghai Shuguan, romantically renamed Ppoggugi 4WD.

Micro Panda. Picture courtesy of Micro CarsMicro Panda in Sri Lanka

A little more to the West in Sri Lanka, Geely has associated with local brand Micro Cars to assemble and sell the Panda and MK (renamed MX7) to relative success. Micro Cars also assembles and sells Great Wall and Jinbei vehicles and ranked #2 in the country last FebruaryIn India, Chevrolet just launched the Enjoy which is in fact a rebadged Wuling Hongguang (#42 in April for its first month) and Chery assembles and sells the QQ in Pakistan, however no sales figures are available so far.

Change Freedom Dushanbe TajikistanChangHe Freedom in Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Another part of the world completely bypassed by most car manufacturers except the Chinese is all the Central Asian former Soviet nations. Even though official data is still rare for these countries, anecdotal evidence show they are present there en masse. For example, did you know that judging by YouTube videos the Changhe Freedom must have been the best-selling car in Tajikistan for a couple of years before such minivans were abruptly banned over safety concerns in 2010? Lifan has been assembling cars in Azerbaijan since 2010 and the MG3 can already be noticed in the streets of the capital Baku. Finally Geely will export part of its Belarus production to Kazakhstan from 2014 onwards…

Geely MK2. Picture courtesy of Matt GasnierGeely MK2 taxi in Bali, Indonesia April 2012

All other significant markets in the region have resisted the Chinese assault so far. Chery apparently assembles cars in Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam but their only claim to fame to-date has been the 27th place of the Chery Eastar in Malaysia in 2010. Geely assembles in Indonesia but the only models I saw in two weeks in Bali were a few MK2 taxis and one single Panda.

chana-era-cv6. Picture courtesy of ChanaMalaysian advertisement for the Chana Era CV6

Hafei launched the Brio as the Naza Sutera in Malaysia in 2006, then renamed it Forza in 2007without luck while Chana’s attempt at launching the Era CV6 and CM8 there in 2009 also failed. Lifan assembles in Vietnam since 2007 and I did see one 520 sedan in Sapa when I travelled there but it seems DongFeng is having much more luck in the heavy truck sector there. The situation is similar in Iran where Chery and Lifan have been assembling cars since 2006, and even though the Fulwin 2 hit a record #4 last month, the production volumes remain very small.

Manila Auto Show Foton Tunland. Picture courtesy of Matt GasnierFoton Thunder at the Manila Motor Show, April 2013

However this situation may change rather quickly, judging at how dynamic the entire Chinese delegation was at the Manila Auto Show in the Philippines earlier this year, as I detailed in my article Manila Auto Show 2013: Has the time come for Chinese manufacturers? According to Leon Herrera, CEO of Chery Motors Philippines, Chery is “aiming at a spot in the Top 5 at the end of 2013 year and between 10 and 15% of the market” by 2015 which is exceptionally ambitious given this is Chery’s second attempt at cracking the Filipino market after the first one failed.

Paradoxically, their proximity with other parts of Asia seems to have worked against Chinese car manufacturers so far, giving a surprisingly less positive balance sheet in a region where defiance towards Chinese domination may have hindered their progress. Potentially not for too much longer. Where there’s a will, there’s a way?

Stay tuned for the final Part of this series about Mature markets!

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GM Heading To Myanmar As Part Of U.S. Trade Delegation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/gm-heading-to-myanmar-as-part-of-u-s-trade-delegation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/gm-heading-to-myanmar-as-part-of-u-s-trade-delegation/#comments Mon, 25 Feb 2013 17:10:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=478992

Myanmar was once a pariah state known for its brutal military government and mistreatment of human rights activists like Aung San Suu Kyi. But democratic reforms and an easing of trade sanctions by Western governments means that doing business in Myanmar is now feasible – and GM is the latest automaker looking to establish a footing in the Asian country.

GM will be heading to Myanmar as part of an American trade delegation that includes companies like Target, General Electric, eBay and Honeywell, under the auspices of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

As a resource-rich nation in Southeast Asia with a population of nearly 50 million people, Myanmar is a potentially lucrative market for auto makers. Some observers have likened Myanmar to Thailand, another auto sales and manufacturing standout in the region. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn once dubbed Myanmar a “star” and Hyundai is already setting up shop in the country.

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South Korean Unions Urging GM To Keep Cruze In Korea http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/south-korean-unions-urging-gm-to-keep-cruze-in-korea/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/south-korean-unions-urging-gm-to-keep-cruze-in-korea/#comments Thu, 15 Nov 2012 17:47:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=467009

Labor leaders in South Korea are scrambling to convince GM to retain production of the Chevrolet Cruze in South Korea, though GM says that the move to 5 global facilities is a done deal.

The Cruze accounts for between 50 and 60 percent of the 260,000 vehicles made at GM Korea’s Gunsan plant. A new Cruze is expected to hit the market in 2014, and the new model is expected to be built in Europe, the United States and other locations across the globe. European production of the Cruze will be an important step for GM to help ease some of its overcapacity problems.

South Korean union workers have used strong rhetoric when discussing the Cruze’s future, stating that it is the “lifeline” of the Gunsan plant (GM has two other plants in Korea) and that “…it [GM] will face enormous resistance…” from workers if Cruze production leaves South Korea.

With an all-new model due at the end of 2014, GM is exploring other options including “…continuing to produce the current Cruze model.” Hmm…

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Proton Boycotts Sales Data, Says It’s The Law http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/proton-boycotts-sales-data-says-its-the-law/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/proton-boycotts-sales-data-says-its-the-law/#comments Sat, 01 Sep 2012 12:36:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=458624

Uh-oh: Our colleagues and fellow market watchers in Malaysia were waiting and waiting for market data for the month of July, but none arrived. With August about to end, they stared to ask questions. They were told there won’t be any data. No, it wasn’t because Malaysia suddenly is like Europe. In the Old Country, July data traditionally are supplied in September,because Europe is on vacation in August.

No, it was because Proton suddenly refused to supply its data.

Without Proton, one of Malaysia’s two sizable automakers, the statistics would be for the birds, reasoned the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA), and called the whole report off. Proton had a surprising excuse for not submitting its sales count. Reports Malaysia’s Motor Trader:

“Proton’s refusal to supply the data is due to its belief that doing so would be an offence under the Competition Act which came into being at the start of this year. The Act, which is intended to prevent price-fixing (among other things), suggests that sharing of data by car companies is an act of collusion.”

Other car companies also curtailed their reporting over the last 6 month, but they still provide ‘top-level’ data, i.e. overall sales volumes but not data on sales of individual models.

Nasty observers could be inclined to think that troubled Proton has something to hide.

Tip of the songkok to Polar Bear

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Ford Looking To Increase Asian Manufacturing, Cut European Capacity Without Plant Closings http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/ford-looking-to-increase-asian-manufacturing-cut-european-capacity-without-plant-closings/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/ford-looking-to-increase-asian-manufacturing-cut-european-capacity-without-plant-closings/#comments Mon, 06 Aug 2012 19:03:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=455676

At a briefing in Traverse City, Michigan, Ford outlined its plans for tackling the twin challenges of Asia and Europe. Despite the capacity crisis facing the industry, Ford is aiming to avoid any European factory closures, while also expanding in Asia.

Ford was vague regarding their plans for trimming capacity in Europe – so much so that they even refused to give a timeline for any changes. But the Blue Oval announced 9 new plants for the Asia/Africa region (again, nothing specific disclosed).

North America won’t be left out in the cold either – Automotive News is reporting that 400,000 units will be added in the U.S., with additional shifts at plants in Chicago, Kansas City, Louisville and Michigan.

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India’s Best-Selling Car – Maruti Suzuki Alto http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/indias-best-selling-car-maruti-suzuki-alto/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/indias-best-selling-car-maruti-suzuki-alto/#comments Sat, 09 Jun 2012 12:59:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=447839

India is touted to become one of the biggest car markets in the world by the end of this decade. However, there is a lot of uncertainty in the Indian automobile market. Fuel prices fluctuate (usually northwards) abruptly, while the Government tries to cover its mis-governance by increasing taxes on cars when its least expected. But which is the car that Indians are buying the most? It is the Maruti Suzuki Alto!

The Alto used to sell around 35,000 units earlier, but in the last two months, its sales have declined massively to 17,842 units in April and 20,724 units in May. The sales decline is because the Alto is offered with gasoline engines only. The demand for gasoline powered cars is fast decreasing in India. Diesel fuel is heavily subsidized and hence people are opting for diesel cars.

Mind you, the Alto is not the Alto that you see in Europe or Japan. The Indian Alto is the last generation Alto, which is still on sale with some cosmetic changes. The new Alto has been re-badged as the A-Star in India. So, the Indian Alto is a very old car, low on safety, low on space, but still the highest selling car. The reason is the Maruti Suzuki badge, which the Alto carries. Maruti Suzuki (a tie-up between Maruti [local] and Suzuki [Japan] in the early 1980s, but now Suzuki has a majority stake) has been present in India since a long time. There is a vast dealership network. The Alto is a well established brand and is the second cheapest car in the country (the cheapest car is the Tata Nano).

As you can see, the interiors of the Alto are terrible. The rear seats are best for children and the front seats are best for short passengers. The vehicle pictured here is the top end model, which accounts for less than 30% of the Alto’s sales. The more popular model carries a 2-spoke steering wheel and a basic instrument cluster (no tachometer). Power comes in from a 796cc, 3-cylinder, gasoline engine which produces 47 BHP and 62 Nm. The more powerful version uses a 998cc, 3-cylinder gasoline engine to produce 67 BHP and 90 Nm. Fuel efficiency is around 20 km/l (47 MPG Non-EPA). The 800cc Alto is priced at $5,500, while the 1000cc Alto costs $7,300.

The Alto has no safety features on offer, there are no ABS, Airbags, etc. The only safety feature is the engine immobilizer. Still, the Alto sells like hot cakes, which clearly shows that pricing and economy are still the two important parameters a majority of first time car buyers look out for, at least in India.

Faisal Ali Khan is the owner/operator of MotorBeam.com, a website covering the auto industry of India.

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Tata Safari – Is It The Indian Land Rover? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/tata-safari-is-it-the-indian-land-rover/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/tata-safari-is-it-the-indian-land-rover/#comments Sun, 27 May 2012 11:39:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=446095 Tata-Safari-4-Wheel-Drive

Ever heard about the Tata Safari? It is the first SUV that was designed and developed entirely in India. The Safari went on sale in 1998, since then there haven’t been many changes to the styling of the vehicle.Tata Motors changed the engines, bringing in better powertrains over a period of time. The Safari has managed to create a cult following and still sells in-spite of its dated styling. The first generation Safari used the engine from Tata’s truck line-up (Tata 407 truck). 

Tata-Safari

The Tata Safari is an SUV, which is based on a body-on-frame layout. The first generation model was too heavy and suffered from high body-roll. The second generation model has been revealed in India (not yet on sale though), and has drastic improvements. The design remains more or less the same but some styling cues have been borrowed from Land Rover. Called the Safari Storme, it borrows its elder sibling’s, the Aria’s X2 platform, which is made of hydro-formed chassis sections. The vehicle also features dual-mass fly-wheel and has been made to comply with EuroNCAP norms, so you can expect to buy one in the near future.

Tata-Safari-Interiors

The Tata Safari has good amount of interior room. The vehicle will seat 5 in comfort, but the last row of seats are best for children. The interiors have vastly improved too (in terms of quality) but the dashboard layout is not to everyone’s taste. Power comes in from a 2.2-litre DiCOR diesel engine which is equipped with VTT (Variable Turbine Technology). This engine has been developed in collaboration with engine experts AVL and produces 140 BHP of power output at 4000 RPM, along with 320 Nm of torque at 1700 RPM. The engine is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox.

2012-Safari-Storme

The Tata Safari competes with the Mahindra XUV500 (a vehicle which we reviewed earlier, you can find the story here). It costs around $20,000 (at today’s exchange rates,) its standard features include alloy wheels, reversing camera, ABS, front airbags, DVD system, LCD screen, climate control, leather seats, electronic shift on the fly 4-wheel drive, etc. The Safari has a tremendous fan following in India and the brand name itself is strong enough to attract many to buy one.

Faisal Ali Khan is the owner/operator of MotorBeam.com, a website covering the auto industry of India.

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Sun Films Illegal In India http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/sun-films-illegal-in-india/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/sun-films-illegal-in-india/#comments Wed, 09 May 2012 02:30:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=443516

India is a country with absolute imbalance as far as policies and regulations go. Earlier this year, the Indian Government abruptly increased excise duty on cars by 2-5%. This increase came at a time when the automobile sector was already facing a slow down. Soon later, one of the states increased local taxes and registration charges. Now to make matters worse, the Supreme Court (the highest judicial forum of India) has abruptly banned all kinds of sun control films on cars (with effect from 19th May 2012).

The alleged reason for this ban is to curb crimes in the country. The court feels that no sun film will result in no cover for the criminal. This ban has resulted in the shut down of the sun control film industry over night. The industry  has players such as 3M, Lumar, Vkool, Garware, etc. People with a Z or Z+ security rating  (read politicians, many of which had been declared as criminals by the courts) can continue to use sun films with heavy tint. That, however, is not enough to sustain a heretofore booming industry.

All car owners will have to remove the sun control films immediately. Repeated offenses will lead to seizure of the driving license. Not only will this result in increase in bribes and huge loss of employment, it will also cause wastage of already installed films. India being a tropical climate really needs sun control films on cars. With temperatures soaring between 30-50 degrees Celsius in summers, I have noticed a far cooler car and better efficiency with sun film installed.

Just a few months back, I installed the top of the line 3M sun control film on my Suzuki Swift. This film cuts down 99% of UV rays and has been recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation. It doesn’t come cheap at a shade above $500 and has a 5-year warranty. I guess I will park my car until India’s government gets enlightened. What would you have done?

Faisal Ali Khan is the owner/operator of MotorBeam.com, a website covering the auto industry of India.

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Lamborghini Gets Serious About India http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/lamborghini-gets-serious-about-india/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/lamborghini-gets-serious-about-india/#comments Tue, 01 May 2012 12:17:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=442294

Lamborghini has become very bullish about the Indian market. The Italian automaker launched its second showroom in the country last week and also set up a national sales agency.

Lamborghini currently sells the Gallardo and Aventador in the Indian market, which are priced at Rs. 3.2 crore ($608,000) and Rs. 4.2 crore ($798,000) respectively. With prices on the higher side, Lamborghini was able to sell 15 units last year, and is planing to sell 20 units this year. The company is looking at selling 50 units per annum by 2015.

But Lamborghini does not have it easy. There are many competitors, from Ferrari, Aston Martin, Bugatti, Koenigsegg, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Maserati, etc who are fighting in a market which has a size of 100 units a year. So how does Lamborghini attract buyers? The company is planing to hold exclusive showcases at 5-star hotels, wherein prospective buyers would be invited to have a glimpse of the raging bull. Lamborghini also plans to take to the track to convert sales.

 

The Buddh International Circuit is rented out for Rs. 10 lakhs ($19000) per day. The 5.1 kms long circuit is frequently rented out by automobile companies to conduct drive events. Lamborghini plans to invite 15 prospective customers to drive Lamborghini cars on the track once a year,in the hopes that the experience will translate into sales.

Faisal Ali Khan is the owner/operator of MotorBeam.com, a website covering the auto industry of India.

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What Went Wrong For Peugeot In India? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/what-went-wrong-for-peugeot-in-india/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/what-went-wrong-for-peugeot-in-india/#comments Sun, 29 Apr 2012 17:19:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=442003

Peugeot might be one of the biggest car makers in Europe, but it has absolutely no presence in the Indian market. With the Indian car market growing bigger day by day, there is no big automaker which doesn’t have the presence in the sub-continent. The most recent car maker to set up operations in India is Porsche, which  used to import vehicles through a third party. So why doesn’t Peugeot have a presence in India?

In 1994, Peugeot tied up with Premier Automobiles. Premier is an Indian automaker which manufacturers cars under license, their latest offering being the Zotye Rio, which is a re-badged Daihatsu Terios. Peugeot offered the 309 sedan in the 90s, which failed to excite Indians. Sales were very poor and the dealership network was small. Soon, Peugeot started to run into labour trouble and during my meeting with Peugeot India officials at the 2012 Auto Expo, they told me they had to leave everything and run back to France. The unsatisfied workmen were coming to kill the Peugeot management! Peugeot left and went missing from the Indian market for a decade.

 

They made a return last year and soon all over Pune – a city near Mumbai, where the Automobile Research Association of India [ARAI] is present, the Peugeot 207 hatchback was seen undergoing tests to obtain governmental approval. Peugeot announced plans of setting up an Indian facility and procured land in Gujarat. The development of the plant commenced and at the 2012 Auto Expo, the French automaker showcased a range of cars including the 508 sedan, RCZ, Le Mans racer, etc. Peugeot was soon going to be back with a bang.

But as soon as the Expo finished, rumors of offices being closed began to trickle in. Peugeot management clarified that after the Euro crisis, they are slowing down their Indian operations. Peugeot later tied up with GM, and now the French automaker is saying they plan to use GM’s India facility to produce vehicles. Peugeot is scrapping its 650 million euro investment in India. The company says that GM is a global partner and they will use their plants to assemble vehicles. GM denies the same, saying that they have absolutely no plans to assemble cars for Peugeot in India. The problem with GM is that their Indian operations rely heavily on SAIC (GM’s Chinese partner) and by assembling cars for Peugeot, their partnership with them could be jeopardized.

So what went wrong for Peugeot India?

  • Wrong entry strategy in 1994, with the wrong partner.
  • The second coming was too late.
  • Brand building never took place. Peugeot could have setup a small network and brought in completely built units from France to create an aspirational brand.
  • Not committing investments for the Indian market.
  • Wrong products offered to Indians. The Peugeot 309 was highly dated when it was launched in India.

If you were part of the Peugeot management, what would you do?

Faisal Ali Khan is the owner/operator of MotorBeam.com, a website covering the auto industry of India.

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A Look At The Mahindra XUV5OO http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/a-look-at-the-mahindra-xuv5oo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/a-look-at-the-mahindra-xuv5oo/#comments Sat, 21 Apr 2012 20:33:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=441029

Mahindra & Mahindra dates back to 1945, when they started to produce the Willys Jeep in India under license. Soon after that, they started developing light commercial vehicles and utility vehicles. In 2002, Mahindra launched the Scorpio, which was also introduced in Europe as the Mahindra Goa a few years later. Last year, the XUV5OO (pronounced five double Oh) was launched. Mahindra had to stop accepting bookings (which were opened in just 5 cities across India) after just 10 days of launch. They received 35,000 test drive requests in the same time. The second phase of bookings saw more than 25,000 applicants, which were put through a draw! Bookings have been closed since then and you can’t buy the XUV5OO even if you have the money. So what is the Mahindra XUV5OO all about?

The Mahindra XUV5OO is offered in three variants – W6, W8 and W8 AWD. These variants are priced at Rs. 1.35 million ($26,039), Rs. 1.52 million ($29,294) and Rs. 1.65 million ($31,695) respectively (prices are inclusive of registration and insurance). The W6 and W8 variants use a front-wheel drive layout, while the W8 AWD has all-wheel drive, but this variant has been temporarily stopped.

Power comes in through a 2179cc CRDI diesel engine which produces 140 BHP of peak power at 3,750 RPM and 330 Nm of peak torque at 1,600 RPM. The 6-speed gearbox is not the best around, shift action is notchy. The XUV5OO is a 7-seater, but the last row is best for kids. With the last row in place, the trunk is almost unusable. A small survey has revealed that people are having many niggling issues with their vehicles including GPS, rear AC, night vision camera, infotainment system not working, just to name a few. Yet, the XUV5OO has taken the Indian market by storm.

In India, people are very conscious about the styling and design of a vehicle. If a vehicle looks good, it will sell well and that is where the XUV5OO excels. Detailing is over the top with the door handles shaped like a paw (the XUV5OO draws design inspiration from a Cheetah), motif engraved into the rear tail lights and a conversation mirror (above the rear view mirror which helps the driver look at the passengers while talking, pictured above). But that is not all, the equipment list is huge and puts even the Toyota Fortuner (a vehicle which costs at least $18,000 more) to shame. The XUV500 is also the first indigenously developed monocoque Indian SUV.

Some of the features include 6 airbags, automatic headlights, automatic wipers, projector headlights, LED parking lights, cornering lights, ABS, EBD, ESP, Rollover mitigation, Hill Hold control, Hill Descent Control, tire pressure monitoring, leather seats, touch screen infotainment system, DVD player, GPS navigation, climate control, all-wheel discs, cruise control, steering mounted controls and start-stop system to name a few. This is serious equipment for a car of this price. I can go on and on about the XUV500 after having driven it extensively, but we shall keep a drive review for another day. Meanwhile, Mahindra is working hard on increasing capacity. Soon, the XUV5OO will be sold in Europe too. Would you buy one?

Faisal Ali Khan is the owner/operator of MotorBeam.com, a website covering the auto industry of India.

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Short Cars With A Rump, And Why India Is Nuts About Them http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/short-cars-with-a-rump-and-why-india-is-nuts-about-them/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/short-cars-with-a-rump-and-why-india-is-nuts-about-them/#comments Tue, 10 Apr 2012 10:20:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=438579 Tata Indigo CS

According to lore, Americans dig big cars, Europeans love their hatchbacks, Australians love pick-ups. And the Indians? Indians love sedans. The sedan is a status symbol for most in India. It provides a feeling of accomplishment. It also costs more. A sedan does not cost much more to make than its hatchback platform cousin.  What makes a sedan more costlier are the taxes we have to pay.

The Indian government wants to promote small cars as they are eco-friendly and consume less fuel. They are easy to park and maneuver. They take less space on the road and help in reducing traffic congestion. If you visit India, you will notice that the infrastructure growth is not keeping pace with the GDP growth. This makes small cars extremely important, and the Government of India is leaving no stone unturned to promote them. But how do they do that?

All cars measuring under 4-meters in length and having an engine capacity of less than 1.5-litres (diesel) / 1.2-liters (gasoline) are classified as a small car and attract only 12% excise duty. All other cars cost you (well, us) 27%. Now what if you want a sedan, but not the tax? This is where the compact sedans come in.

The first company to develop a compact sedan was Tata. The owners of Jaguar Land Rover made the Indigo CS (Compact Sedan), which measured less than 4-meters in length and was powered by a 1.4-litre diesel engine. This helped Tata Motors save 15% excise duty, which they passed on to the buyer, resulting in the Indigo CS becoming the cheapest sedan in the country.

Swift DZire CS

The next company to follow the Compact Sedan craze was Maruti Suzuki (Suzuki’s Indian operations), which developed the Swift DZire (a Swift with a 316 liter trunk). In comparison, the Honda Jazz has a trunk space of 399-liters. But still the Swift DZire (gasoline) sells almost twice that of the Jazz (the Jazz is only available in gasoline).

The compact sedan craze is quite high and growing. This is the reason why Mahindra (which now owns the rights to the Renault/Dacia Logan and has renamed it Verito) is planning to cut the bumpers of the Verito to make it a sub 4-meter car. Why did Toyota’s made-for-India-car, the 4.26 meter Etios, get a shorter brother, the 3.77 meter Etios Liva? Now you know.

Many others are planning similar things with their MUVs and SUVs.

It looks like India will soon be awash with stout cars with a little rump.

Faisal Ali Khan is the owner/operator of MotorBeam.com, a website covering the auto industry of India.

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Someday, GM Will Own the Streets of Hanoi! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/someday-gm-will-own-the-streets-of-hanoi/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/someday-gm-will-own-the-streets-of-hanoi/#comments Thu, 05 Apr 2012 15:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=438443 During my visit to Vietnam last month, I photographed many Honda Super Cubs, but I always kept one eye open for other interesting vehicles. I spotted a few Toyota Crown Royal Saloons, which was cool, but catching a Geo Chevrolet Tracker at a Hanoi intersection was one of the weirder sightings. Studying the photograph later, I realized that three of the four (non-two-wheeled) vehicles in the frame were GM products that show the breadth of The General’s Asian empire. In the foreground, there’s a Chevrolet Matiz, made by Daewoo (I saw plenty of these things, badged as Pontiacs, when I visited Nayarit State in Mexico last year). Then there’s a Toyota Innova, which we can ignore. After that, the Tracker, made by Suzuki (yes, it has a snorkel). Then we’ve got a Daewoo bus in the background.
I think the GM product I saw in Hanoi that I’d most like to see sold in the United States is the Daewoo Labo Roach Coach; this thing seems to have about the same footprint as a Honda Fit, if it’s even that big. We need more Kei Truck Roach Coaches!

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2012 Honda CR-V: See It Now, Buy It… Later http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/2012-honda-cr-v-see-it-now-buy-it-later/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/2012-honda-cr-v-see-it-now-buy-it-later/#comments Mon, 31 Oct 2011 21:59:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=416228 Honda has shown off its CR-V in “concept” form already, so today’s leak of the first production-spec images from Japan ahead of the reveal in Los Angeles isn’t a huge revelation. On the other hand, it does come at a bad time, as the leak comes just as Automotive News [sub] reports that flooding in Thailand means

Honda will cut its North American output by 50 percent, starting Wednesday. All six North American plants will be affected through Nov. 10… Production likely will be affected for at least “the next several weeks,” Honda said. More cuts could be announced later. In addition, the December on-sale date of the redesigned 2012 Honda CR-V may be delayed by several weeks. (emphasis added)

So, if you’re jonesing for your fix of frumpy new CUV hotness, you’re just going to have to be patient. Speaking of which, while we patiently wait for October sales, Honda is telling Bloomberg that its sales went up in the last month, its first such gain since April. But between the ongoing problems in Thailand, a 50% production cut in North America, and the awkward looks of this CR-V, it looks like Honda had better enjoy this moment of good news while it can. Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail production12crv3 production12crv2 production12crv1 production12crv Hello there... you.

 

 

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Obama And Lee At Orion: Free Trade Sucks, But It Beats The Alternatives http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/obama-and-lee-at-orion-free-trade-sucks-but-it-beats-the-alternatives/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/obama-and-lee-at-orion-free-trade-sucks-but-it-beats-the-alternatives/#comments Sat, 15 Oct 2011 18:45:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=414868

In many ways it was a strange scene. The president of Korea, speaking in a US factory that builds the replacement to a car that was once imported from Korea. The president of the United States, speaking in a factory that can only competitively build subcompact cars because of a government-ordered “innovative labor practices” that unionized workers were not able to ratify. In many ways, both President Obama and President Lee were visiting the graveyard of their ideals. Which is another way of saying, that this meeting symbolizes a new pragmatism.

American workers may not be getting paid what they once were, but they’re building cars at a profit. Korea may not be exporting as many cars to the US, but it’s putting the squeeze on Japan. Professor Kim Seung-jin of Hankuk University sums up the dynamic in the Korea Times, saying

There is no free lunch in the world… Korea should get into the U.S. market prior to Japan and China. The more we delay the less the advantage. You should know that the world is still living off the American market

This deal probably won’t boost US auto exports to Korea in the way Obama is hoping for, but it’s a reminder that US manufacturing is slowly becoming more competitive… and that our market remains an attractive place to do business. Free trade is necessarily a messy business for politicians, and protectionism might have kept Orion’s wages higher or Aveo production in Korea. But by embracing free trade, these two presidents could walk into Orion, live up to the downsides of free trade, and promise a stronger, more sustainable economic future.

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Chevrolet Global Colorado Debuts In Thailand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/chevrolet-global-colorado-debuts-in-thailand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/chevrolet-global-colorado-debuts-in-thailand/#comments Mon, 10 Oct 2011 19:09:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=414323

Editor’s note: GM has officially confirmed what the UAW already let slip: Chevy’s new midsized Colorado pickup will be built at the Wentzville, MO plant and sold in the US. More details on that decision are forthcoming, but in the meantime, here’s Edd Ellison’s report from the global launch of the Colorado in Bangkok, Thailand.

Chevrolet has launched its new-generation Colorado in Thailand where it will be built and exported to 60 global markets. In true GM style, the ceremony was lavish – a cluster of truck ploughed their way through a large field of crops planted in a Bangkok exhibition hall watched by the media, dealers and VIPs packed into several grandstands – and the message was just as upbeat, the automaker feeling it has a product that can compete in the crowded mid-size segment.

In ten days time Thai customers will be able to pass judgment on whether GM have got this right, quickly followed by Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. The New Colorado has to make up ground – the outgoing model, introduced seven years ago, never gained traction with consumers, particularly in the U.S. where robust initial sales tailed off very quickly. In the developing world, customers continued to prefer offerings from Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Isuzu – the latter somewhat ironically, as it shares its architecture with the Colorado.

GM is confident it has dotted all the ‘i’s and crossed the ‘t’s in developing the new Colorado. It has been a long and expensive project, involving the refitting of the Rayong factory, the construction of new engine plant next door to produce the new family of diesel engines, while styling was carried out in the carmaker’s Sao Paulo studios and extensive R&D was undertaken in Thailand and elsewhere. “It’s the most clean-sheet mid-size truck programme,” in GM history, said Martin Apfel, President GM Thailand/South East Asia.

According to Brad Merkel, GM Global Vehicle Line Executive, the big lesson which came from listening to customers was that they perceive pickups as “rough and tough” – but they don’t want “rough” to be a fundamental characteristic anymore, or even see why it should be. Growing aspirations and consumer demand that sees half of all pickups in Thailand bought as private cars has seen all OEMs scurrying to improve the comfort and luxury of their trucks. Toyota, the mid-size market leader, improved its Hilux this summer, and the others are following suit. Merkel says that the truck is now “refined” and points to the lack of vibrations, improved stability, and the dialing out of wind noise and rattles as key achievements. “It feels car-like,” he reckons.

The new Colorado will start from a low base here – 7,347 sales for the year to the end of August. That compares with 100,187 Hilux sales for tsunami-hit Toyota, 91,161 for the Colorado’s twin, Isuzu’s D-Max, 41,508 for Mitsubishi’s Triton and 16,032 for the Nissan Navara.

GM is anxious to emphasise the new project hasn’t been conducted in tandem with Isuzu, the two focusing on different directions after developing a common architecture. Addressing perceptions that the Colorado is more expensive to run has been a priority – the new model will go 20,000 km before its first scheduled service, while 100,000 km of running should be achieveable for a cost of no more than 20,000 baht.

Styling-wise, much of the design language has been carried over from the acclaimed Colorado “show truck” displayed at several major motor shows this year; however, some of that impact has been lost in the translation to production reality. The front end is dominated by Chevrolet’s twin-grille ‘family’ look which works quite well on what aims to be a big, butch pickup. It’s grown, too – the Colorado is now 5347mm long and there is a healthy choice of seven body colours. Inside the cabin is quite well laid out, but – as is to be expected with a pickup – there is a lot of hard plastic. The air-con controls are nicely laid out and backlit, there are umpteen storage areas and decent seats, but a number of areas, such as the instruments and door catches, feel basic and a bit clumsy.

The new four-cylinder diesel engines are based on the 6.6-litre V8 Duramax. They come in 2.5 and 2.8 litres and can be mated to 5-speed manual or 6-speed auto transmissions. The 2.5 (which should account for 75-80 percent of Thai sales) develops 150 HP and 350 Nm while the 2.8 has 180 HP on tap and 440 Nm (manual) or 470 Nm (auto).

Underneath, the body-on-frame chassis has been stiffened in torsion, and there are the expected safety features including front airbags, ESP, ABS, BA, CBC, HBFA and a deformable steering column.

GM is cautious about putting numbers on targets. The Rayong plant will assemble 12,000 new Colorados up to the end of this year, but management say they will be following demand. Capacity is likely to be around 100,000 units a year with a split between domestic and export. Only the 2.5 has been priced so far; it starts at 537,000 baht for the single cab, rising through extended/double cab, low/high ride and 2/4WD before reaching a range-topping 808,000 baht. That leaves the Colorado pretty much in line with existing pickup pricing here.

Edd Ellison is a Thailand-based auto journalist, covering the ASEAN markets and beyond. He can be contacted at edd@interfuture-media.com Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Soon to be available in Colorado... (All images courtesy: Edd Ellison) IMG_4795_resize IMG_4767_resize IMG_4765_resize IMG_4700_resize IMG_4661_resize IMG_4653_resize IMG_4597_resize IMG_4454_resize

 

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Live From Jakarta: Indonesian International Auto Show Coverage http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/live-from-jakarta-indonesian-international-auto-show-coverage/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/live-from-jakarta-indonesian-international-auto-show-coverage/#comments Sat, 30 Jul 2011 16:18:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=404803

The 19th Indonesian International Motor Show (IIMS) is currently taking place at the JIExpo in the capital city, Jakarta, with almost all the world’s major automakers represented at a show which is quite simply bigger, bolder and brasher than ever before. There is a real spring in the step here as this huge, underdeveloped nation of 238 million people, the fourth-most populated in the world, stands poised to unlock the potential of its auto industry and become a major player on the world stage. Indonesia is standing at a crossroads and everyone is preparing to join the party.

In size terms, IIMS is the second-biggest motor show in South East Asia, behind only Bangkok; in terms of exhibits it is now almost an equal – although when it comes to visitor numbers (expected to peak at 300,000 this year), it is still far behind Thailand’s two annual extravaganzas. Since IIMS upped sticks and moved across town to the bigger JIExpo three years ago this event, which includes all the obligatory visitor entertainments from drifting and stunt driving to Miss Motor Show, has grown quickly; this year 38 brands and 227 suppliers and accessory companies have filled out every available space.

Indonesia, the world’s 18th biggest economy, has seen the auto industry really come out of the blocks and production has accelerated over the last half-decade by an average of 20 percent a year. Last year it broke the 700,000-unit barrier, and the one million mark is only two years away on current trends.

The government has made the auto industry one of its five main priorities and wants to reach the two million production mark in the next 5-6 years. That would see ambitious Indonesia pitching to overtake Thailand, the long time “Detroit of South East Asia.” Hatta Rajasa, the Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, said confidently at the opening ceremony that he foresaw Indonesia “outperforming Thailand in a few years.” He also expects Indonesia becoming “the largest automobile market in Southeast Asia”, and, significantly, he sees that achievement going hand-in-hand with becoming the region’s production hub. The global carmakers are themselves jockeying for position now – but waiting for the government to roll out incentives that will see an auto boom. Per capita income here is US$3,000 – “motorization” generally kicks off at around US$5,000 – so the duck are being lined up in a row. Through the first half of the year, 417,687 vehicles have been built. However, exports still represent a drop in the ocean, with around 90,000 units exported for the first six months of the year. This figure is split fairly evenly between CKD and CBU, and much potential here remains has to be unlocked. Johnny Darmawan, the Vice-Chairman of the Indonesian Automotive Industry Association (Gaikindo), believes that production could reach 780-830,000 units for the year.

That is the background to IIMS 2011. Last year there were 18 car brands here; this year there are 24. No-one, it seems, wants to miss out on the action, and in terms of bookings, business is already brisk. The biggest OEM here is of no surprise – Toyota has the facelifted versions of the Hilux pick up and Fortuner SUV, which made their world debuts just a couple of weeks ago in Bangkok, on show. Toyota leads the way in emerging markets around the world and it has Indonesia nailed – dependable vehicles for hardworking use, in a country where the road infrastructure is very poor. Adding spice to Toyota’s booth is its hybrid concept pickup, the “Advanced Breakthrough Aero Truck”, or A-BAT for short. It debuted four years ago in Detroit and is still being chattered about as “will they/won’t they” build it; here, however, it’s just a stand halo. Toyota is also showing off the polished FT-86 concept sports car, and another concept that looks little more than a stand filler, the 1/X, which is modeled on the Prius but through ultra-efficient weight saving it comes in at just 420 kg. Both of these have been doing the rounds of the Asian motor shows over the last year and have been seen in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.

Right opposite Toyota is eternal rival Honda; it has an array of bread-and-butter models and is showing off four models in Indonesia for the first time – the new, low-cost Brio which recently debuted in Thailand, as well as three innovative models: the CR-Z (sports hybrid) and two versions of the Fit: hybrid and EV. The Fit EV is significant in that it represents Honda’s approach to the electric car market. It is likely to reach production next year, although EV isn’t in the sights in Indonesia, while the Brio could well be an option for Honda to sell here. The 10-day show will give them a great chance to judge customer feedback.

Daihatsu is a key player here and in its ‘A-Concept’ it has possibly the most significant car at the show. The first serious concept to be built in Indonesia, it is a low-cost A-segment project that is being pushed by the Japanese carmaker as the car that will “motorise” the nation. Daihatsu hit the two million production mark here last October, one million of that coming in the last five years – and as demand grows, it’s just broken ground on a new plant that will raise local capacity from 330K to 430K a year. Mr Sudirman, President of the local operation says: “I’m sure these excellent staff and our new plant will bring the Indonesian automobile society onto the next stage.” A-Concept is fairly generic, but has neat touches, good ergonomics inside, and has been thoughtfully executed overall. Mr Sudirman is upbeat – with A-Concept, he’s batted a fast ball at the government, the pitch has been made. Daihatsu’s local operation meanwhile wants to become equal in status for the carmaker to Japan, and significantly Mr Sudirman has become the first Indonesian to be elected to the parent company’s board. Also notable is that the President of DMC Japan, Mr. Koichi Ina, is here to unveil A-Concept.

Daihatsu has the most lavishly appointed booth at IIMS, with a focus on family entertainments. As well as A-Concept, the Sirion, a rebadged version of the brand-new Perodua Myvi 5-door hatchback, also made its debut at the show. Perodua’s Managing Director Datuk Aminar Rashid, who was at IIMS, says that around 350 units a month will be shipped over CBU from Malaysia. The Sirion is the star of the stand and immediately the covers came off, an unmissable media advertising campaign kicked into gear. Also new to this market at the show is the latest version of the Move minivan.

Infiniti has a booth inside Honda’s floorspace and its showing off its current range, the G37 (coupe), M37 (sedan) and FX37 (SUV), as it eyes up a slice of the luxury market here. Also on show is the Essence, a hybrid concept sports car equipped with a 3.7 V6 twin turbo engine which was built two years ago to mark the 20th anniversary of the Infiniti brand – this is the first time that it has been shown off in South East Asia. Eye-catching, it’s a draw with visitors.

All three of Detroit’s big players are also here. Ford and GM are both in the market for the long-haul, but Chrysler Group, which is almost invisible throughout Asia, has chosen the Indonesian market for a fresh push as it feels the portents are good.

Ford has previewed the new Ranger at IIMS. It will be built in Thailand and arrive CBU around the end of the year. Last year Ford sold 8,200 cars here, and the Ranger accounted for the bulk of this – 5,000 units – making it the Blue Oval’s key model. Ford Indonesia President Will Angove has high hopes for the new Ranger as he sees oil, gas and mining operations continuing to boom here and he “expects to see the [pick up] segment continuing to grow.” As well as commercial use, Angove says the Ranger – just like in pick-up obsessed Thailand – is experiencing “increasing retail demand.” He reiterated the Asean ‘One Ford’ plan which is seeing eight significant new models introduced across the region over the next five years. That kicked off with the Fiesta, which Angove bullishly says is already “transforming our business in Indonesia”, while the new Ranger will be followed next year by the new Focus. All three models will be built in Thailand and arrive CBU. Angove says Ford Indonesia has “no plans to do [CKD].”

Chevrolet has debuted the facelifted Captiva crossover and also unveiled the new Colorado pick-up which has been partly developed in Thailand and will arrive early next year. The Spark has also picked up an award for ‘Best Interior Design’ from the ‘Car & Tuning Guide Awards’ at the show. Giving a halo effect to its booth, Chevrolet is showing off a bright-yellow Camaro convertible.

Having long since dropped under the radar in Asia – even missing out on the lucrative Chinese market party where it has failed to develop a beach head so far – Chrysler has popped its head above the parapet at IIMS, where all three of its brands are on show along with a swathe of new models. Chrysler is expanding its dealer network here and says it is considering Indonesia as a future production hub. Jeep takes centre stage with no less than two stands – the first is a standalone, in-between Mini, Mercedes and Audi, making a statement of intent, while the other it shares with sister brands Chrysler and Dodge. All its models are new or refreshes, kicking off with the tidied-up Patriot 2.4 at IDR585 million, alongside the Wrangler range, which is priced between IDR690 million and IDR895 million. Topping the range, the new Grand Cherokee starts at IDR1.15 billion for the 3.6 V6 Limited. Meanwhile, in rapid time, the Dodge Journey also made it to the show with the 2.4 four-cylinder unit. It is priced at IDR510 million. Chrysler completes the line-up but it has to make do with the old 300 series, so these are consigned to the corner slot. The 300C here is priced at IDR1.05 billion for the 3.5 Executive and IDR1.35 billion for the 6.1 SRT. All are CBU and at these prices will only sell in tiny numbers, but for Chrysler this show is more about gaining some brand awareness.

Mazda is another OEM with a vibrant display packed with cars, and it presented two new models for their Indonesian premières: the Mazda8 (premium MPV) and MX-5 (sports car). Last year Mazda sold 6,012 cars here; this year’s target is to reach five figures. For the first half of the year, sales stand at 3,997 units, with April, May and June all posting records. The two new models both slot into the niche bracket – Mazda is expecting to shift around 70-80 units of the Mazda8 a month, and around 35 of the MX-5.

It also has a limited edition version of the Mazda2 on the stand which can be ordered exclusively at the show. It comes in a new colour – ‘Passion Orange’ – and is specced-up with leather seats, entertainment system including GPS, 16-inch alloy wheels, cosmetic add-ons and a distinctive bodykit. Only 17 will be sold.

Mazda Motor Indonesia was established in 2006 and all its models arrive CBU from Thailand or Japan. There are no current plans for CKD here. “Bearing in mind Indonesia’s continuously improving business climate and automotive industry, we of course continue to weigh-in the possibility of opening an assembly plant here,” says Marketing Manager, Ms. Astrid Ariani. “For the time being, however, there has not been any concrete plan for us to do so in the near future.”

The two Korean brands, Hyundai and Kia, are on a real global roll these days, with a raft of products that are perceived to finally be able to cut it with the Japanese brands. At IIMS it’s the same story, with both pushing hard for market share and a ‘foot in the door’.

Hyundai pitched up in Indonesia in 1995 and with a raft of new products it’s looking aggressively at increasing sales here. Last year it sold 3,800 units on this market – its target for 2011 is to double that to 8,000 units, and it’s going down the CKD route. At IIMS it rolled out the New Sonata, and – for its world première – the Grand Avega. The latter is a 4.115 m long 5-door hatch based on the B-segment Accent and ‘Euro-ised’ from the version it sells in China. It is powered by a 1.4 four-cylinder twin-cam engine with 108 bhp and 13.9 kg/m of emissions, and comes with a 5-speed manual priced at IDR159.8 million (the 4-speed auto is an extra 10 million). The New Sonata, meanwhile, is priced at IDR449.5 million.

“Hyundai Indonesia’s strategy is [to] follow the Hyundai Motor Company’s global strategy to launch a new product and create some variant products for the current one,” says Febri Astuty, Corporate Communication Head. “We are very happy so far to see the response since day one of IIMS 2011, especially for Hyundai Grand Avega.” Over the first three days of the show, Hyundai took 141 orders and its stand was one of the busiest on the halls. Just up the hall Kia gave the latest Picanto and Sportage their local debuts.

Nissan has picked itself up in the last few years, and here it is also looking to muscle its way to the front. Last year Nissan hit 42K sales in Indonesia; this year’s target is an ambitious 60K, with the brand sitting on 24K units for the first half of the year. It has a full line in this market, from the A-segment March hatchback through to Navara (pickup) and Elegrand (premium MPV) – all reflected in a booth that has 17 cars on show. It’s now the number three here in terms of retail sales and as President Takayuki Kimura told the press, “Nissan is not a niche player [in Indonesia] anymore.”

Nissan has three new models at the show, the March ‘Sport Version’, an improved Gran Livina SV Auto, which Mr Kimura believes “meets customers needs”, and the 2011 X-Trail with a refresh that includes new bumpers and wheels.

However, it is with the Juke that Nissan is poised to have a new star in Indonesia, and that is reflected in initial bookings: 5,000 since the order book opened last month. Demand for the Juke here has surprised no-one more than Nissan; it had targeted 500 units a month. Small wonder Mr Kimura sees this model as “redefining the segment in Indonesia.”

Another company with worldwide ambitions is Suzuki, and here it is also looking to ride the wave. It’s a key player here, with first half sales hitting 40,000 units. Suzuki’s current footprint includes three factories – one assembling cars, one focused on engines/transmissions, and the final one building bikes. It also has 52 dealers and 151 outlets, with the whole operation employing more than 5,000 staff. It is also planning a significant new investment that will turn Indonesia into one of its global low-cost car production hubs. The Swift, APV, Gran Vitara and Super/Mega Carry are all built CKD here. The latter model, with its ability to be converted to multi-function use, taps straight into huge Indonesian demand for compact LCVs. At IIMS Suzuki has given the refreshed SX4 its local debut, while the stand is also showcasing the new Alto-based Concept-G for its debut, and to further burnish its ‘green’ credentials, the hybrid-prototype Swift Range Extender.

Isuzu has a range of commercial vehicles on show. It still sells the Panther here at attractive prices – the Minibus starts at IDR208 million and is a popular sight on the roads, while the pick-up version starts at IDR 136 million. Above that comes the dependable D-Max, starting at IDR262 million.

Several Chinese OEMs are eyeing up the potential of Indonesia, but their hopes at the show rest on Geely, which has an array of models on display including the locally-built MK and the new Panda. The latter comes with a 1.3-engine and slots in at the bottom of the Geely range, opening at IDR107 million for the basic specification manual, rising to IDR129 for the auto. The MK2 (hatchback) meanwhile starts at IDR125 million, while the MK (sedan) opens at IDR144 million.

Meanwhile, at the premium end of the market, the perpetual battle between the three German brands – Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW – goes on here, just as it does across the globe. In Asia Mercedes is the leader and it’s just the same story in Indonesia where it outguns its rivals. Half-year sales are up 9 percent to 2,515 units and it’s yet another brand to have doubled its floorspace since last year. Mercedes has a three-quarter share of the premium market, with the C-Class having 64 percent of its segment, the E-Class 71 percent, and the S-Class 72 percent. The C-Class (676 units year-to-date) debuted here four years ago. Also making their local debuts are the C-Class coupe and SLK. Mercedes is also pushing its Smart brand here and several versions, including a Brabus-tuned performance model, face off MINI across the aisle. The Smart is on 183 units for the first half of the year. The company’s bus chassis/truck sales are also up three-quarters this year – the always impressive Unimog leads out the outdoor LCV booth.

For its part, BMW has recently announced new investments here, and the X1 will join the range within the next two months, arriving CKD to join the 3-series which has been built here for more than five years. Taking the fight to Mercedes, BMW recently announced plans to expand its local plant to assemble the 5-series later this year. Last year BMW sold 1,247 cars here, up 20 percent on 2009, and for the first half of this year sales have hiked 42 percent. Its stand is displaying the eye-catching GT M3 “Art Car” that raced at Le Mans this year.

Audi is also eyeing up a slice of the premium pie and it presented the brand new A6 for its local debut. While Mercedes and BMW are established premium brands across Asia, Audi is only really chipping away at the edges so far, except in China where it is booming. Rounding out German representation is VW; it’s been here for two decades and builds a couple of models CKD. The new Polo received its local debut at the show – and just like anywhere else the German brands packed in the media for their press conferences, and not least for their abundance of leggy models.

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First Half Year Strong In ASEAN Countries http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/first-half-year-strong-in-asean-countries/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/first-half-year-strong-in-asean-countries/#comments Wed, 28 Jul 2010 15:25:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=361709

The Chinese market keeps going, and going, and going. It was up  47.7 percent in the first six months of 2010. Can’t be, you say? Well, the rest of the Asian markets are not far behind. The six major ASEAN countries (Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Singapore) bought 41 percent more cars in the first six months of 2010 than in the year before.

“Given that Japanese cars account for about 80 percent of sales in these countries, the growth is expected to give a big boost to earnings” to Japanese automakers, says The Nikkei [sub] The survey covered Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Singapore.

Of course, these countries are no China, but 1.18 million new vehicles were sold in the in the first six months are nothing to sneeze at. With an 80 percent share in the ASEAN countries versus a 20 percent share in China. Japanese carmaker get a bigger slice of the pie. Also, because they pretty much own the market there, their profits are highert than in China or India,

Here are the results in detail:

  • Indonesia: Up 76 percent to 370,206 vehicles
  • Thailand. Up 54 percent to 356,692 units
  • Malaysia: Up 20 percent to 301,077 vehicles
  • Philippines: Up 37 percent to 82,147 cars.

(No numbers for  Vietnam and Singapore)

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