Toyota upbeat about Indonesia automotive market share

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) -- one of the world's largest automakers -- remains upbeat about its position in the Indonesian automotive industry, the firm's president, Katsuaki Watanabe, says.

"Indonesia constitutes not only an important market for us but also a major production base," Watanabe said in response to questions from Indonesian journalists at a reception at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo late last month.

The media dinner, which was held in conjunction with the opening of the 40th Tokyo Motor Show, was attended by over 250 journalists from all over the world.

Billed to be the most significant Japanese auto show in more than a decade, the biennial extravaganza displayed a wide variety of cars, including Japan's domestically produced vehicles and also those manufactured by European, American and South Korean competitors.

The show, which was held at the Makuhari Messe complex in Chiba prefecture, Tokyo, highlighted the latest hybrid, diesel, electric and fuel cell technologies, as well as displaying Japan's most creative collection of performance sports cars.

Watanabe said the decision to make Indonesia one of its production bases, especially for the manufacturing of multipurpose vans, had inspired an idea about the possibility of expanding its investment in the future.

"We will maintain the production of innovative multipurpose vehicles in Indonesia as the country has become an important production base among other nations such Thailand and the Philippines," he said.

Watanabe said investment expansion could possibly be done if Indonesia continued recording a strong market increase. "Just let the (Indonesian) market grow in such a way so as to create better market prospects for the expansion of investment," he said.

He reiterated where there was a good market prospect, there would be an opportunity for expansion at the production base in a certain country.

In a related development, Akio Toyoda, one of TMC's deputy presidents, expressed concern over the poor infrastructure in Indonesia, especially with regard to the (Tanjung Priok) port system.

An improvement was badly needed to help speed up the flow of export and import goods in line with TMC's determination to make Indonesia the major base of its MPVs, he said.

"The infrastructure condition there is below our expectations. If (Indonesia) wants us to expand investment, the port improvement has to be met," said Toyoda, who visited Indonesia in 2004 during the launching of Innova Toyota Kijang vans.

Toyoda promised to reevaluate his firm's policy in Indonesia if Indonesia made improvements to its infrastructure, mostly in terms of port services and access to the port complex.

"Indonesia has the potential to become our expanding market and export base," said Toyoda, the heir of the Toyota owner, who it is believed will lead TMC in the future.

TMC has been under the spotlight among automotive observers due to its steadily strengthening position where the firm competes neck-and-neck with General Motors of the United States as the largest car producer in the world.
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