General Motors Co. (GM.N) is banking on a no-frills "people mover" to help it make inroads into the Japanese-dominated Indonesian car sector, one of Asia's hottest auto markets.
Marcos Purty, head of GM's Indonesian operations, told Reuters that production of the Chevrolet Spin - a van with three rows of seats - at its newly restarted plant near Jakarta has significantly pushed up sales.
The Spin, which is priced as low as at 139.7 million rupiah ($14,360), hit Chevrolet showrooms in Indonesia in early May, and its impact has been felt almost instantly, according to Purty.
But the Detroit-based company is still miles behind its Japanese rivals.
Indonesia's overall auto market grew 25 percent to 1.1 million vehicles last year and is projected to grow another 10 percent this year. Japanese automakers hog more than 90 percent of that market.
In June, GM sold 1,294 Spin vans, powering the company to sell a total of 1,761 cars that month. While still small, the volume was respectable compared to the company's annual volume of 5,277 cars last year.
The GM plant, which shuttered in 2005, will have eventual capacity to produce 40,000 Spin vans a year.
Indonesian consumers prefer simple no-frill vans, and the Spin competes against similarly packaged and priced cars such as the Toyota (7203.T) Avanza and Nissan (7201.T) Livina.
GM began shipping some of its Indonesia-made Spin cars to Thailand this month and expects to start exporting them to the Philippines next month.
(Reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)