* Jump comes despite stricter downpayment rules
* Sales surge on growing middle class, low interest rates
* Competition heating up with new Toyota, Daihatsu models
By Rieka Rahadiana
JAKARTA, Jan 18 Indonesian auto sales surged 25
percent to a record in 2012 and look set to keep growing
strongly this year as sharply rising wages and low interest
rates encourage more consumers to swap two wheels for four.
The jump in annual sales to 1.1 million vehicles comes
despite more stringent downpayment requirements. In December
alone sales climbed 11.4 percent from a year earlier.
A key indicator of domestic consumer spending, auto sales
have been emblematic of a sterling year for Southeast Asia's
biggest economy, although weakness in global demand for
commodities has recently taken some shine off the country's
Automakers, however, are developing more affordable cars for
the domestic market with the latest offerings from Toyota Motor
Corp and Daihatsu Motor Co Ltd priced under
$10,000 to compete with models from Nissan Motor Co and
Tata Motors Ltd. Expectations are high for continued
Bahana Securities estimates 18 percent growth in 2013 and
2014 though others say the pace of growth this year could slow
due to regulatory efforts.
"There is downside risk from regulation noise as
Jakarta's provincial government is keen to tackle congestion,"
said Adrian Joezer, an auto analyst at Mandiri Sekuritas, who
predicts 10 percent growth this year.
The Indonesia Automotive Industry Association has forecast
2013 sales at 1.1 million vehicles.
"There are still impediments in 2013 which, according to our
consideration, it will cause sales obstacles, such as government
downpayment regulations and low commodity export prices,"
Sudirman Maman Rusdi, chairman of the association told Reuters.
Industry leader Toyota led sales with 406,026 vehicles sold
in 2012, accounting for a 36 percent market share.
The shift to autos has hit sales of motorbikes, which fell
12 percent last year to 7 million.
(Additional reporting by Yayat Supriatna, Writing by Neil
Chatterjee; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Matt Driskill)