By on August 8, 2012

While everybody has their eyes on China and possibly India, the car market in smaller South East Asian countries is exploding right below  the RADAR screen. By themselves, car sales in a country like Vietnam don’t seem to amount to much. Now, go to the trouble and add a few South East Asian countries together. The Nikkei [sub] did and notes to its amazement that the car market in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Singapore jumped 21 percent in the first half year to 1.6 million units.

Now why would The Nikkei be so excited about this?

1.23 million or 77 percent of these rapidly growing sales in the balmy countries are by Japanese automakers. Taken together, the car market for the region is similar to “such emerging markets as Brazil, India and Russia,” as The Nikkei can’t help to note.

In Thailand, sales rose 40 percent in the first half to 606,523 units. Sales in Indonesia rose 28 percent  to 535,263 units.


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12 Comments on “Japanese Own Outlandish Share Of South East Asian Market...”

  • avatar

    I have to wonder how long that’s sustainable considering the size of the market and the cost of a car in some of these countries.

    For example, I’ve recently been spending time in the Philippines on business on a fairly regular basis. New cars are outlandishly expensive in the PI.

    Haven’t been to Thailand in a couple years, but IIRC, the upper middle class there is Camry country, at least in BKK.

    • 0 avatar

      Same thing in Thailand- there is a huge registration fee on all new cars. As a result a new car costs twice what it costs elsewhere.

      • 0 avatar

        Just about all the ASEAN countries have very high purchase costs for automobiles. Singapore is pretty infamous in that regard (all cars are imported) with steep fees, starting with the COE (Certificate of Ownership), Additional Registration Fee (ARF) and a whole set of alphabet soup acronyms, including electronic road pricing (ERP). So a Honda Accord probably costs 3x what it costs in North America. Malaysia also has high costs, though not as much for the local Proton vehicles. There are a number of “indigenous” models for local markets, such as the Toyota Kijang/Innova/Tamaraw, which are more reasonably priced.

        Nevertheless, it doesn’t stop aspiring motorists from buying cars – and in fact, they become even more prestigeous due to the high costs. Fortunately, repair/service rates aren’t too onerous by European or American standards.

        Interesting that the car shown in the picture is a Mitsubishi. SE Asia is probably one of the few markets that Mitsubishi has a pretty strong presence in, worldwide.

  • avatar

    Something like a Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere perhaps?

  • avatar

    I’d argue that this market is like other Asian-luxury markets: go big or go home. The Japanese (other than Lexus) are at a disadvantage in the upper end.

    From my travels around Vietnam, my mental counting was telling me that 90% of vehicles on the road were motorcycles or commercial vehicles. Out of that tiny 10% sliver of privately owned cars, I’d say about 25% were flagships: Flying Spur, 7 series, S-Class, and LS-series. Another 10%-15% were full size SUV’s: LX, GL-Class, Q7, Land Cruisers, and QX56’s.

    If somehow the income distribution evens out, maybe we’ll see a larger mainstream audience in SE Asia.

    • 0 avatar

      Russia’s similar. Nobody buys a 520d like in Europe – it’s always a 535i or 550i. Admittedly though they can’t really use diesel because of the cold winters.

  • avatar

    This is great, a woman standing by a car without the stupid,
    degrading, unhealthy, expected high heeled shoes.

  • avatar

    This is bad news for the scooter makers. This territory was the last stronghold of the smokey 2 stroke scooters.

  • avatar

    Interesting that while the Japanese brands dominate the SE Asian markets, the Koreans lead the Japanese in the Russian and Indian markets while they butt heads in the Chinese market.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    “1.23 million or 77 percent of these rapidly growing sales in the balmy countries are by Japanese automakers.”

    What are the European and American automakers numbers?

    Ghosn is definitely always into something.

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