ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) markets have been a hot topic throughout most of 2013. As the automotive industry as a whole is finally showing signs of recovery, automakers far and wide are looking to capitalize on the rapidly growing customer-bases in developing countries like India and Indonesia. Many of these markets are expected to surge exponentially over the next 5 – 10 years, so establishing a presence now is paramount.
If you were to take a snapshot of Indonesian automotive sales right now, you’d see two Japanese brands dominating the frontier – Toyota and the oft-neglected Daihatsu. Nissan has plans to become a serious contender in 2014 with their Go twins (which we covered earlier last week), and now we know that Honda is jumping in the ring as well. At the 2013 Indonesia International Motor Show in Jakarta earlier this week, Honda revealed their first-ever ASEAN-specific vehicle, the Honda Mobilio MPV Concept.
The Honda Fit / Jazz is currently the Japanese brand’s most successful vehicle in the Indonesian market, and it’s getting a refresh next year. However, customers have complained that the hatchback is too small and close to the ground for the country’s road and weather conditions. The Mobilio MPV is Honda’s answer to those complaints; the budget-friendly minivan features an SUV-like ground clearance of over 18cm, enough to ensure the car remains damage-free while driving through the rougher terrain typical of developing countries.
As you can see, Honda really did their due diligence for the Mobilio MPV Concept. Just like Nissan did with Datsun, the Mobilio is the result of thorough market research into the customer needs of developing countries. The MPV is the best-selling category of vehicle in Indonesia, and simply by having an offering for those customers, Honda is making a smart move. In addition, the Mobilio has been carefully fitted to the standard parking space in Indonesia, with a length under 4.5m. This way the car offers maximum space without impinging on parking convenience.
Alright, enough about marketing, let’s quickly run through the specs…
The Mobilio will be a three-row minivan suitable for up to seven passengers. It’ll be powered by a 1.5L 4-cylinder i-VTEC gasoline engine, which will get approximately 47 mpg. It seems likely that Honda will also release a diesel version of the Mobilio, although we can’t confirm that for sure right now. Regardless, the engine will connect to either a 5-speed standard transmission or a CVT, with the CVT likely to be the more popular option in Indonesia. It should be noted that these numbers allow the Mobilio to qualify for Indonesia’s Low-Cost Green Car tax benefit.
Finally, while you might have expected them too, Honda did NOT skimp on the interior of the Mobilio Concept. The car is well-furnished with brushed aluminum, pseudo-wood, and an overall sleekly designed interior. However, don’t expect all the same technologies in the Mobilio as Honda’s more upmarket vehicles; the ASEAN MPV is expected to launch at a price between $13K and $16K, which doesn’t leave much room for bells and whistles. Nonetheless, if the production Mobilio drives as well as Honda says it will, then it should have no problem creating a foothold in these fast-growing markets.