Some Indonesian car plants resume work as export demand returns

05, Jun. 2020

traffic-4491722_1280.jpg

By Anita Fildzah

JAKARTA, NNA – Some car makers in Indonesia have already restarted operations to cater to export orders as signs of recovery emerged from the international market.

Although the country including capital Jakarta still remain large-scale social restriction to contain the coronavirus pandemic, Daihatsu Motor Co., Suzuki Motor Corp., and Toyota Motor Corp. have resumed production with the necessary health measures in place.

Like most establishments, they had shuttered mostly in April and May after the country-imposed restrictions to fight the contagion which has since taken a severe toll on businesses and jobs across the archipelago.

While it's back to work for the automobile producers with urgent overseas orders to fulfil, others are still facing uncertainty.

The first to rev up its production engines again at its three plants in late May is PT. Suzuki Indomobil Motor, the Indonesian manufacturing unit of Suzuki Motor Corp.

Seiji Itayama, the local unit’s president director, said the Suzuki plants had begun operations gradually to meet export demand as the international market started to revive after an economic standstill.

"However, at this initial stage, we will reduce the volume of production, and we will gradually evaluate so that the volume can increase," he said in a press statement. Suzuki factories are located in Cakung, a district of East Jakarta, and Cikarang as well as Tambun, West Java Province.

On June 3, PT. Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indonesia (TMMIN), the production and export base of Toyota Motor Corp. in the Asia-Pacific region, resumed operations at its plants in Karawang in West Java and Sunter in North Jakarta.

The company is focusing on export orders first before catering to the domestic market, said Masamichi Tanaka, the director of advisor to the president director of TMMIN.

He said, "As for domestic production, the operational plan will be carried out around* next week and in stages following the needs of orders."

At the same time, PT. Astra Daihatsu Motor (ADM), the agent holder of the Daihatsu brand cars in Indonesia, also restarted production for exports.

Amelia Tjandra, corporate planning & communication director of ADM, said, "Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has not finished yet, the economy is expected to continue while efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19 are still in place. We hope that the implementation of the new normal will have a positive impact on the Indonesian car market."

Meanwhile, the Indonesian subsidiaries of Honda Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. are still assessing needs amid market uncertainties before trying to restart any production in mid-June.

PT. Honda Prospect Motor (HPM), a manufacturing and sales unit of Honda Motor, has only been carrying out shipping and export activities.

Yulian Karfili, public relations manager of HPM, told NNA, "We continue to monitor the conditions of market demand to determine production at the factory. Only the production line is stopped, while other functions such as export and shipments are still running."

Also waiting to see clearer market signs is PT. Mitsubishi Motors Krama Yudha Indonesia (MMKI), an official distributor of Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

Prianto, its human resources and general affairs director of told NNA in an email, "The consideration based on the uncertainty of the automotive market conditions in Indonesia and exports is that they have not yet recovered. The temporary cessation of production will carry out until June 14."

In recent days, most populous West Java Province has started easing large-scale social restriction measures partially.

Jakarta, the sprawling capital of 11 million people, will follow suit to allow the reopening of offices, restaurants and retail outlets, but at half their staff strength only, from June 8 as it embarks on a gradual transition toward a ‘new normal’ to foster a recovery for the country.

Jakarta will allow malls to open from June 15. The country will open fully to local tourism by end-July and foreign tourism in September.

The reopening of Jakarta will be cautiously phased in stages according to the health situation. It might even be curbed by an emergency brake should there be a surge in infections or deaths, warned Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan in a televised address on Thursday.

The spike in the first few days of June is worrying health authorities while the overall pattern shows that the outbreak is nowhere near its peak.

Jakarta produced the most cases while East Java Province has become a hotspot since mid-May. The country has a total of confirmed 28,818 cases, including 1,721 deaths as of Thursday, according to the National Agency for Disaster Management (BNPB).