JAKARTA, Indonesia—Have you ever heard of Otobursa? Neither had I, until Inquirer Motoring was invited to find out what it’s all about.
Otobursa Tumplek Blek, Indonesia’s largest and most comprehensive automotive bazaar, is unknown in Southeast Asia although it has been held annually since 1999. So the organizer, Otomotif Group, the country’s biggest automotive multimedia conglomerate, invited journalists from Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines to attend the 13th Otobursa last Saturday and Sunday at the Gelora Bung Karno Plaza & East Parking Lot. The Inquirer was the only Philippine media invited.
The theme this year was “Past, Present and Future” with the plaza grounds divided into three areas designating these time zones. In the Past zone, rarely seen cars and motorcycles from the 1990s era and beyond were exhibited by their proud owners. Among the historic vehicles on display were vintage Toyota Land Cruisers and a Mercedes from the Mercedes-Benz 210 Club.
Most crowded. The most crowded areas of the Past zone were the rows of tents that offered hard-to-find used car parts and accessories for sale, many of them in good condition and available at affordable prices. Here I saw vintage and classic car collectors and restorers inspecting the items that were displayed on the tarpaulin-covered ground—items such as steering wheels, grilles, car doors, car hoods and tailpipes. One tent that had a streamer “Indonesian Starlet Club” was selling parts and accessories of that classic Toyota subcompact.
More spare parts and accessories, but those for current car and motorcycle models, were on sale at booths in the Present zone. It was in this zone that the Wet T-Shirt Contest was conducted outdoors by Kawasaki, naturally attracting a largely male crowd as a scantily clad model poured a champagne bottleful of water on herself and posed provocatively beside a motorbike.
But many moved to join spectators at an adjacent arena when they heard the sound of motorcycles revving. After motorcycle stunt riders performed their daredevil balancing acts, with a drifting Nissan Silvia noisily joining the program at the end, two Suzuki Jimny mini SUVs took turns driving over a pile of old, totally wrecked compact cars. The Suzukis were the front act for a locally assembled Monster Truck, powered by a Chevrolet V8 engine, that jumped three times over the pile of old cars.
Dominated. Toyota and Honda, the two major sponsors of Otobursa, dominated the Future zone with their large pavilions. Toyota, Indonesia’s best-selling car brand, displayed eight vehicles including the new Avanza, the top seller across all categories. But the Rush, the 1.5-liter subcompact SUV that Toyota produces in Indonesia and exports to Malaysia, was not on display. Toyota replaced the RAV4 with the Rush in Indonesia, where it sold 315,000 vehicles of various categories in 2011, thereby retaining 35-percent market share. Also last year, Toyota celebrated its 40th year in Indonesia.
In terms of sales volume in Indonesia, Toyota is No. 1, followed by Daihatsu (a Toyota affiliate), Mitsubishi, Nissan, Suzuki and Honda. Plagued last year by supply chain problems due to the huge flood in Thailand preceded by the massive
earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Honda is recovering and expanding its plant in Karawang to boost production capacity to 120,000 units a year by 2014. At present, the plant produces 60,000 units annually of the Jazz, CR-V and Freed. The Freed, introduced in 2010, is a multipurpose vehicle that Honda is pitting against the Toyota Innova. Honda plans to introduce the Brio, a 1.25-liter subcompact, sometime this year.
More. But Otobursa was more than a big automotive bazaar and trade fair, it was also family-friendly. While the man of the house scrounged for rare car parts and accessories at the Past zone, the kids could go to the Traffic Garden, where they were taught how to be safe road users and drivers. Or enjoy riding a merry-go-round and ferris wheel nearby. Camera bugs could join the automotive photo contest. A culinary area in the Past zone offered traditional Indonesian food for the entire family.
Teen-age offspring could go to the Night Market, dine at a number of cafes and enjoy live performances by some of Indonesia’s top bands at the main stage. At the Test Drive Parade, they could try out their dream car or motorcycle. Or visit the Devil’s Barrel, a big circular tube in which a motorcycle rider showed off his riding skill.
Otobursa attracted over 63,000 visitors in 2011. Total sales on the two days of last year’s Otobursa reportedly grossed the rupiah equivalent of US$2.3 million. Otomotif and the 13th Otobursa sponsors are confident that those numbers will go up this year. It is truly time for Otobursa to get international.