On The Road Again

General Motors' all new Chevrolet Trax to gain automaker traction in Indonesia's SUV market

By Amal Ganesha
Sunday, April 9, 2017

General Motors is set to increase its presence in the emerging sport utility vehicle, or SUV, market after launching its all new Chevrolet Trax in style in Bali on Tuesday (04/04).

"SUV is a growing market not only in Indonesia, but also globally," General Motors International brand and product communications director Laurent Berthet said in a press conference at Komune Hotel in Gianyar, Bali.

Sales of SUV in Indonesia grew 43 percent in 2016, and GM expects Trax will get a significant slice of the still-expanding market since it has been the automaker's best-selling car internationally.

"The new Chevrolet Trax is being built in Korea and sold globally. This compact SUV has been a big hit in many countries," Berthet said.

"The new safety and entertainment features have been turning heads wherever it is released," he added.

The Jakarta Globe was given a chance to test the car on Wednesday (05/04), taking in the winding roads of hilly Kintamani and Bangli and ending on a beachside road in Gianyar.

The car is fitted with a turbo system and its acceleration and power were apparent during many hill climbs. This more than compensates for a less-than-supple handling caused mainly by the SUV's bulky, non-aerodynamics shape.

The car's entertainment features are impressive with a sunroof and extra power sockets at the back in the luxury version of the Trax, the LTZ, which sets you back Rp 305 million ($22,900).

The new Trax is already available at 35 Chevrolet dealers across Indonesia.

Cultural shift drives rise of SUV

The SUV's recent popularity is caused by a change in consumer behaviors, a General Motors top executive said.

"It started a long time ago. In North America, people started moving on from sedans to cars that support a more active lifestyle. The SUV won out because you can fit more people and things in it," Ty McGinnis, the vice president of quality at General Motors International responded to the Jakarta Globe's question at the press conference.

"Sporty cars with ample space inside has been popular all over the world since then," he said.

"That's why demand for the Trax is so huge worldwide," he added.

In Indonesia, multi-purpose vehicles, or MPV, still hold sway in terms of total sales but in growth, the SUV is now the new king of the road.

"MPV is not growing as fast as SUV in Indonesia. Last year, MPV sales grew by 19 percent. SUV's grew by 43 percent," General Motors Indonesia President Director Gaurav Gupta said.

Gaurav added that SUV is perfect for Indonesia since it runs on gas, not diesel.

Despite shutting down its local factory a few years ago, General Motors has been aggressively targeting the Indonesian market recently. The US carmaker wants to beat Japanese car brands' domination by offering more add-ons and after sales services for costumers.

"Our service car is available 24 hours a day. In Bali, we have two of these service cars, so we can pick you up wherever your car breaks down," Thony Wijaya, the owner of Chevrolet's best dealer in 2016, Prima AutoWorld, told the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday during a visit to his dealership.

"The same service car is also available from our dealers in Jakarta and other cities," Thony said.

This article first appeared on the Jakarta Globe website on April 7, 2017.

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