KARAWANG, Indonesia -- PT Astra International Tbk, Indonesia's leading auto retailer and an owner of the sole Toyota distributor, unveiled on Wednesday the new generation of a Toyota model that is its best selling car.
Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. through its local unit PT Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indonesia, started production on Wednesday of the new multi-purpose vehicle, called Kijang Innova, with annual capacity of 80,000 cars and 180,000 engines.
Jodjana Jody, sales chief at PT Toyota Astra Motor, told reporters Toyota had invested $360 million in the Indonesian plant that produces the Kijang Innova.
Toyota Astra Motor, owned 51 percent by Astra and 49 percent by Toyota, said it had already received 15,000 orders for the new model as of last week.
"(The) Kijang Innova launching is aimed ... to further contribute to Indonesian economies through investment, employment and export," the companies said in a joint statement.
The investment could help boost investor confidence in the country, which is still struggling to fully recover from the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s.
Indonesia needs more investment in factories and industry to create jobs. About 40 million people, or 40 percent of the country's labor force, are either jobless or underemployed.
"Kijang Innova is one of five IMV (international multipurpose vehicle) models developed by Toyota. IMV models will be produced mainly in Indonesia, Thailand, Argentina and South Africa," the statement said.
Toyota launched a new pickup truck in Thailand last week, the first model built under the so-called Innovative International Multipurpose Vehicles Project, which aims to build vehicles for regions other than Japan and North America by efficiently drawing on Toyota's global resources.
The company's executives have said the IMV Project is one of the most ambitious ventures ever undertaken by Toyota.
After the Hilux VIGO in Thailand and the Kijang Innova in Indonesia, South Africa and Argentina will build a pickup and sport utility vehicle next year. Thailand will also manufacture the sport utility vehicle starting next year.
Astra International is 42 percent owned by Singapore's Jardine Cycle & Carriage Ltd.