Fri, 18 Aug 2000

GM launches first model of CBU Chevrolet Blazer

JAKARTA (JP): As the competition in the local automobile market heats up, General Motors Indonesia (GMI) launched on Wednesday its first completely built up (CBU) vehicle, the Chevrolet Blazer V6.

GMI's director of sales, marketing and after-sales service, Kris A. Mayer, said the company was confident its new vehicle would be able to compete with other CBU automobiles, particularly in the sport utility vehicle market.

"We'll do very well. We have better features and a competitive price compared to (our competitors), which range from slightly below Rp 500 million (US$62,500) to Rp 800 million," he said.

He identified the Cherokee Jeep, Land Cruiser and Mitsubishi Pajero as potential competitors to the company's Chevrolet Blazer V6.

The company is confident it will sell about 100 units of the new Chevrolet model by the end of this year given predicted improvements in consumer confidence.

The Chevrolet Blazer V6 has a 4,300cc engine and comes with electric sliding sunroof, power folding mirrors, air bags, digital compass and outside temperature readout. The vehicle will be offered at Rp 499.5 million (about $58,750) on the road.

In order to supplement its product portfolio as well as to take advantage of the current hype in the local market over foreign-made cars, GMI will launch early next month another CBU vehicle, the family wagon Zafira, Mayer said.

"The Indonesian market really differentiates CBU cars from the locally assembled ones, that's why we'll offer more to give them better choices," he said.

The country's car market has witnessed an influx of CBU vehicles since the government decided in June to open the domestic market to all foreign-made vehicles.

In the non-sedan passenger segment, various CBU multipurpose vans and sport utility vehicles, such as Jeep's Cherokee and Wrangler, Land Rover's Discovery and Range Rover, Mitsubishi's Pajero and KIA's Sportage, are vying to win consumers' attention.

In the past, Indonesia protected the local automobile industry by imposing heavy import duties and luxury taxes on imported vehicles. It opened the market in June last year, but placed a partial restriction in February this year on the import of CBU vehicles with engine capacities exceeding 4,000cc or with price tags over $4,000, a policy which was revoked in June.

The government may still take steps to protect the local market and is considering imposing an import duty of between 130 percent and 135 percent on imported vehicles. At present, CBU cars are subject to import tariffs of between 65 percent and 80 percent depending on engine capacity.

Mayer said the sale of CBU models was expected to help boost the company's sales figures, although CBU models were predicted to account for only 5 percent of GMI's total sales for 2000.

He said the launch of the Chevrolet, which resembles GMI's locally assembled Opel Blazer, would not necessarily harm the sale of the Opel Blazer.

"Each of them has a different segment. The Chevrolet Blazer is dedicated to the upper market segment," he said.

GMI currently assembles and sells only one brand, the Opel, which comes in three versions, namely the Vectra, Optima and Blazer.

In the global market, General Motors produces a number of other brands besides the Opel and Chevrolet, such as Cadillac, Buick, GMC, Hummer, Holden, Saturn, Pontiac, SAAB and Vauxhall.

GMI communications manager Helena Abidin said the company expected to see its sales hit 7,000 units this year, higher than in 1997, which was the early stages of the economic crisis, when the company sold 3,600 units.

"The 7,000-unit target is only for our locally assembled cars, not including the CBUs," she said. "We're quite optimistic about this target as we've already sold 3,286 units as of July."

Domestic car sales, excluding CBU cars, increased to 28,267 units in July from 27,492 in June, according to data from the Indonesian Automotive Industry Association (Gaikindo).

The accumulative domestic car sales, exluding CBUs, since January is 154,934 units. (cst)