Officially Official: Honda Freed Is Coming NEXT JUNE!

Well, so much for the hoolabaloo… It seems that today is just the day Honda Indonesia sent out a press release about going to sell the Freed in Indonesia. At least we have a timeframe, it’s June and it’s confirmed the car would be available with i-VTEC engine and 5 speed automatic transmission. No further information is available regarding the car, on whether it will be offered with the 8 seat variant or the 7 seat variant nor would it be avaible in manual transmission.

For the time being, I’m going to write about Freed specification in comparison with its competitors, namely Xenia/Avanza, Grand Livina, APV and Gran Max Luxio.

Officially Official: Honda Freed Is Coming NEXT WEEK!

Oh my… What a delightful turn of event this is… It seems that I mistakenly translate trimester with semester. Last night in a closed session, Honda Indonesia finally unveils its intention to sell Honda Freed in Indonesia and the official launching of the car will be held on 11th of March, next week! Wow! This is actually happening, Indonesia will be the first ASEAN country to sell the Freed… Wait… Actually, if you want to put more emphasis on that, Indonesia will be the first country in the world to produce and sell Freed outside of Japan.

Honda Indonesia is very bold, very very bold if I might add… The Freed target market in Indonesia is already saturated with Daihatsu Xenia and its clone, Toyota Avanza. Then the venerable challenger Nissan Grand Livina. Not counting Suzuki APV and the soon to be released Daihatsu Luxio. But should Honda be afraid? Not really… We are talking Honda here! Where engineers are part magician and voodoo doctors.

The Freed first of all, is a front wheel driven, front engine minivan where its competitors are more or less a crossover between two cars sans the Grand Livina. The Xenia/Avanza is a crossover between MPV and SUV, high ground clearance with front engine, rear wheel driven setup. The Suzuki APV and Daihatsu Luxio origins are semi pick up truck with engine underneath driver seat driving the rear wheel. This doesn’t mean a thing, but when you start to add up the fact that FF cars like the Freed and Grand Livina have ample interior room thanks to the lack of driveshaft running from the front of the car to the back… Then it start to makes sense.

The Freed main competitor will be Nissan Grand Livina with its similar FF drivetrain setup. Size wise, although the Freed is shorter compared to Grand Livina, it has longer wheelbase and is taller, these facts should lead to the Freed having more ample interior room than the Grand Livina… Although it remain to be seen.

The last sentence leaves a lot to be desired, and I smell a comparison is coming! Comeback soon, I’ll prepare a paper comparison between Freed competitors in Indonesia… And to some extent, the ASEAN.

Unofficially Official, Honda Freed IS Coming to Indonesia

Well, according to an interview of a local online media with Honda Indonesia Marketing Director, Mr. Jonfis Fandi that is.

The impromptu information was out in a yearly media gathering held in Jakarta. It is confirmed by the head honcho that the Freed is indeed coming to Indonesia in the 2nd trimester of 2009 (that’s middle of the year), and what’s more, it will be Freed’s debut outside of Japan… Wowza! This backwater country actually got an exclusive debut of THE most waited Honda in 2009! (at least in term of affordability… Hybrid this ain’t)

With the rumors Honda Indonesia is canceling bringing Freed to Indonesia, this is quite a news. Price wise, Honda Indonesia is touting that volatile foreign currency/local exchange rate make them unable to guesstimate the local price for the Freed. Final price will be announced near the actual car launch date. Whatever it is, the price might land between US$2300 to US$25000 considering local Honda City is priced at US$24000 to US$26000. It’s common to price 7 seater MPV below a sedan in some parts of Asia as sedan is considered more luxurious than an MPV.

All I can say, godspeed bringing this car back home Mr. Jonfis. We’ll be waiting with arms wide open… Although I’m keeping my SX4 Crossover.

All New Honda City Revealed… Gravy On The Steak

With the already too much spy photos, renderings, pictures and hints from around Asia, the all new Honda City has arrived in full glory. For this generation, Honda goes all out to design the new City. No longer a lanky and dorky brother of Honda’s own Fit for which the City is based upon. The new City, albeit derived from the same platform of the Fit now sports a huge different between its hatchback brother… To a degree that the new Honda City is now is Fit’s second cousin that the Fit really want to get its groove on upon… I really am rusty… More pictures courtesy of autoblog after the click. Continue reading

Honda Jazz 2008 & Prepare For An Epic Battle… A Paper Battle

Well, the bird is out of its cage, the all new 2008 2nd generation Jazz (Fit) has arrived in Indonesia!!! Although I didn’t have any pictures, I do have information taken from the official brochure. Then, I will start a new section for my blog here called Paper Battle. The premise is simple, I will take a spec sheet of some cars which I’m going to compare, and compares it… It’s that simple, that’s why it’s called Paper Battle… Comparison based on the brochure… D’oh…

But anyway, here’s the information regarding the all new 2nd generation Honda Jazz.

There are only regular and RS model.

  • The regular version comes with the RS engine 1.5L 120ps.
  • Both version comes with 5MT or 5AT, no more CVT.
  • No future plan to bring the 1.3L + CVT version.
  • There are no moonroof for both models.
  • ABS+EBD+BA standard on both models.
  • The regular model uses 15” wheels, the RS uses 16” wheels.
  • Footrests on both model for AT version (finally!)
  • The RS model got dual SRS airbag, a bodykit, front armrest, keyless entry (akin to Accord’s), retractable door mirror, and paddle shift for the AT version.
  • Multi Information Display to calculate fuel consumption standard on both model.
  • Under seat box standard on both model.

The prices are:
Regular MT : Rp 160 million (US$16K)
Regular AT : Rp 170 million (US$17K)
RS MT : Rp 172 million (US$17,5K)
RS AT : Rp 183 million (US$18K)

Prices are expected to increase as demand increases, and demand will increase! It is priced competitively, still in range with other Japanese city cars (Toyota and Suzuki), and comes with a distinct most powerful engine in its class and the first to use 5AT on city cars.

I’m quite speechless indeed. I know for long that Honda Indonesia will probably follow Honda Thailand’s model portfolio, but I expect huge price jack. The MID, 5AT and 1.5L i-VTEC alone should warrant a premium price for the new Jazz, but it is quite affordable. The brochure even stated that the 2008 Jazz comes with tilt and telescoping steering wheel… I need to see this car in person, that’s just too awesome for its current price.

Damn! When I’m just about to buy 2008 Suzuki SX-4 (long story) and the new Jazz came out of nowhere… Oh well, three months of fasting and resolve to finally buy a non Honda obliterated to hell and back. I just need to test drive this baby and I will have another fasting time to consider the new Jazz or Suzuki SX-4… Damn….

Taktik Kotor Melawan Pendatang Baru

Komunikasi adalah konsep yang paling sering kita gunakan, dari berbicara hingga menyampaikan pesan secara tak langsung. Tak hanya dapat membentuk sebuah tujuan baik, komunikasi kini juga kerap digunakan tujuan jahat. Black campaign yang mendera Nissan Livina dan kartu GSM Axis baru-baru ini di Indonesia merupakan salah satu bentuk “demarketing” yang tak pandang bulu.

Continue reading

Feel… I’m So JAZZ!!!!

Wowza! I just browsed and opened up Honda Thailand website for some confirmation of new Jazz/Fit drivetrain. Not only I stumbled upon the fact it uses a 5AT with the 120ps engine, Honda Thailand made a full length jingle for the car… Feel I’m so Jazz indeed!!!!! I can’t stop playing the song at the background!!! Very catchy song… And almost made me forget about buying Suzuki SX4 altogether… Go Honda!!!

Click here if you want to hear the song, it will load in the background.

Click here if you want to see the TV commercial of Honda Jazz in Thailand, it features a portion of the song.

I bet to anybody who replied to this post that Honda Indonesia will make a half assed attempt at creating the advertisement for 2008 Jazz. They are probably going to use some hip artist dancing around with a popular song, I bet also they didn’t even bother to look at this Honda Thailand Jazz advertisement.

Proton Vs Indonesia: Between Dreams and Reality

Proton as one of SE Asia own automotive marque is regarded as one of the most successful brand in the industry. As a SE Asia bigger company, it stretches its sales network to Europe, Middle East, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, China, many other countries and recently Indonesia. Even though many late comers did not enjoy high growth or sales immediately, Proton sales in Indonesia is awfully lacking.

Indonesians are well known for their impulsive buying habit and have tendency to become super early adopter. Many China made bikes, cars, products which had bad quality being bought as soon as they come up, and the reason why because they are cheap. Sure in the end the quality problem rears its ugly head and people started ditching them. However, Proton did not enjoy that kind of “first step” as none even bought their products (well actually there are some). Until today since last year Proton opens up its business in Indonesia, I only saw 4 Protons on the road with one of them being towed… Probably had a problem, the driver seemed very unhappy. So why oh why…?

The reason Proton is very unsuccessful in Indonesia as far as I know is attributed to several obvious things. One being political, two being product portfolio, and three being the product styling.

Politically, Malaysia and Indonesia has a bit of tension regarding Indonesian labor being treated bad there. As deaths has been reported due to neglect and abuse in Malaysia. To make things worse, there are claims about Malaysia claiming Indonesia’s cultural products such as songs, indigenous dance and what not. I would not go into details because I think politics are stupids and most politician goes where a marketer and lawyers went when they are dead anyway.

On product portfolio front, Proton only made available cars which are sedans and supermini, which are cars most Indonesians dislike. Indonesian market dictates that a car must be:

  1. Cheap.
  2. Can sit minimum of 6 comfortably.
  3. Frugal
  4. Handsome… This one is subjective

So Proton current product portfolio only consists of two sedans, one hatch coupe, and one supermini hatch. They certainly could not seat 6, the price range is weird, their looks are… Somewhat unique, and frugality is unproven. Proton’s product price range is unique in a connotative way. Proton Savvy as a supermini is aggressively priced at Rp. 107 million, that is quite right, considering it is automatic model, the Gen-2 sedan hatch is also attractively priced at Rp. 146 million, so does the Waja sedan at Rp 168 million (all A/T models). However, the Satria Neo, which is a 2 door hatch coupe is priced at Rp. 190 million, quite expensive for a late comer considering at that price you can get the more popular Honda City VTEC A/T. So price is okay, one star product with three cash cow is not bad at all.

Then there is the look… Frankly speaking personally, aside from Proton Savvy, all of Proton’s offering is… Different… In a negative way. The Savvy is different in a unique way, it looks very European. The unique side profile, the center exhaust, and every line puts me head over heel. If I have excess money, then I will buy this car, but since I do not have any, then it will have to suffice I am writing good impression of the car 🙂 Do you know that the Savvy has engine and transmission lifted directly from Renault Clio? Yup, the D4F engine and Quickshift 4 (or is it 5?) can be found powering the Savvy. Some say the Savvy itself is based on the Clio, but I could not found definitive info on this. Suffice to say, the engine and transmission itself is worthy to be called awesome, as this means that Savvy is a true European car. There is a popular culture here in Indonesia that if you cannot afford Mini Cooper, than Suzuki Swift is the next best thing… WHOA! The Swift might have the look, but the Savvy is the truer representation of European technology (because it actually is). Interior wise it is also quite good, considering it is a Rp 107 million car.

Other Proton cars… Err… The Waja looks like small VW Passat, a bad impersonation that is. The Gen-2 rear end is good, I like it, but the overall roundness does not suit the front end of the car, which happens by the way has smallish headlights. Proton Satria Neo profile also look like it belongs to the 90s. Overall, aside from the Savvy, all Proton cars looks outdated to me.

So why Proton is unsuccessful in Indonesia? Aside from political problems, Proton did not do the number one mantra in the business world, they did not do enough marketing effort. Marketing effort to change the perception of Proton when it was just taxi fleet so many years ago. The problem is, Proton Indonesia needs to get rid of its taxi fleet image that has been perceived for so many years. Mind you, when Proton (Saga) was used as taxis, it is not a good taxi, the ride was rough, and the engine noise was awful. Sure time changes everything, but perception is one thing that time could not easily change.

So Proton needs to change or rather reinvent their marketing strategy. For sure the existing campaign is less than effective, and they can follow what Suzuki, Toyota and Honda had done in the past to introduce youth oriented marketing and approach. At least the Savvy is quite good, Proton could abuse the European connection because people are sucker for International exposure.

One more thing I like about the Savvy is that it looks very different than any other car out there. Perfect to be targeted to those who wanted to be different.

Franchising: The Final Frontier – Part Uno

As I have noted previously on my Franchise or Not To Franchise post, one must take careful consideration to take a franchise. There are lots of considerations to make before taking a decision, decisions such as:

• Availability of suppliers
• Location desirability
• Brand image
• Product desirability amongst the would be consumer

Those I mentioned above seem like a very simple process that anybody with limited knowledge might know. However, you might want to take a look at these next examples how a franchise is not done the right way following the criteria I described above.

For this entry I will take two examples that spans the globe, the internationally renowned Krispy Kreme and the not so known Es Teler 77. Both are a distinctively different company although both has similarities in term of the business they are into, the food business. I don’t have to describe in detail about Krispy Kreme, it is after all already spawn across the globe, however I do have to detail it out about Es Teler 77. Es Teler 77 is a chain store business mainly selling unique Indonesian dessert of a mixed fruits with syrup and crushed ice. The name of this dessert is the brand name of the store itself, es teler, or drunken ice in English… The name doesn’t do justice for the product though as the dessert has no intoxicating property whatsoever, it is just crushed ice mixed with mixed syrup (this is the not so secret ingredient) and mixed exotic tropical fruits. Speaking of ingredients, I personally like the star product of Es Teler 77, the sweet taste of the syrup (too sweet for my taste though, I occasionally ask for more ice or for less syrup) combined with jackfruit, coconut meat, and avocado combined in a way that it creates a complete combination of taste. None of the specific ingredient has its distinct taste dominate each other.

Es Teler 77 claim itself as the first Indonesian franchisable business available, although I assume they are just one of the pioneers, not the very very first. As a franchisee, one could find Es Teler 77 chain store strewn about in Indonesia most known shopping malls or districts. With the perfect combination of availability and affordable price, Es Teler 77 took Indonesia by storm (or tropical tempest).

Now with the introduction settled, let’s talk about how each actually fails in some aspect of its business life and why we have to take a lot into consideration of franchising even though how well known the brand is. This entry will be a companion entry to the original Franchise or Not To Franchise I did back when I first started this blog. With such a wide spectrum franchising covers, expect to see more of it down the line.

Now let’s talk about Es Teler 77 first shall we? As a franchise company, Es Teler 77 spreaded out throughout Indonesia with vigor, from the far east of Indonesia to the absolute west of it. The nature of the star product or the accompanying products which are cheap and can be considered into side dishes/dessert makes it as impulse goods. In that they are bought without a lot of considerations. On my last trip to Australia many years ago, I saw Es Teler 77 stall opened near… Well I forgot, you guys can check it out around Sydney. This come as a surprise for me because entry barriers for this kind of shop is quite high, considering the exotic goods it uses as the main ingredient.

Through curiosity, I came up to the store and ordered the es teler. As I predicted, the taste was chaotic at best, the jackfruit tasted bitter and occasionally tasteless, a trait commonly associated to unripe jackfruit or packed (not fresh). The syrup tasted too sweet, and basically it taste doesn’t do justice to the original recipe we have back home. When I took a look around, most who ate there are Indonesian’s student.

Now what is the problem with Es Teler 77 in Australia? As I have mentioned above, the problem lies in the availability of suppliers of exotic tropical fruits there. Indonesia as a tropical country is the perfect breeding ground for tropical fruits. Availability of coconuts, jackfruit and avocado are year long, or at least it is abundant enough that the ingredients can be kept with ease even if it’s out of season. Australia with its pseudo reversed tropical season (winter when it is summer around Asia and vice versa) prohibits the specific genus growth of tropical fruits used in Es Teler 77 ingredients.

I can imagine the horror of managing fruit distribution if it has to be imported from Indonesia… Brr… It gives me the chill already. First of all, they need to find grocer who are willing to pack and ship the goods to Australia, mind you though, selecting groceries to send abroad needs skill. You can’t just select random vegetables or fruits, you need to select manually those who are just ripe that it still retain its consistency (fruits gets softer as it ripens) so it can survive the journey. This alone already took quite a lot of resources/money, there’s also more resources involved on keeping the unripe fruits to be used by the store. Distribution actually is no problem if you have resources to spare actually… But the most important thing here is that fruits that ripen on tree tastes different if it’s ripen off the tree.

Now what do we basically knows about franchising in general? Franchising brings about the unique taste of the franchisers to the franchisee, or just basically bringing the unique taste of the trademark throughout the places it opens its business. If Es Teler 77 Australia has a different taste than Es Teler 77 Indonesia where its main HQ are, what is the point of opening up business abroad? I suspect that Es Teler 77 Australia is not a franchisee, but rather a branch therefore the owner is just a district manager acting solely on HQ command.

Es Teler 77 problem lies in the availability of suppliers in the region it opens up is business. Also the problem of Es Teler 77 lies in its product type, it is not a universally consumed goods like an ice cream. Can you imagine ordering up ice cream in Antarctica? Eating ice cream in the coldest place of the world seems like a good idea. The same goes to Es Teler 77, it’s star product basically a cold food, outside of the tropical regions do you think it will manage to be sold well? It’s about habit of eating that is becoming the ultimate barrier to entry for food products, especially if it’s going to be sold internationally.

Do remember, when you took a franchise, always ask where are you going to get the special ingredients of the product if there’s any.

Now what is this habit of eating we are talking about? And where’s that Krispy Kreme entry? Where did Superman go? Does the chicken came before the egg? Will lost goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on? Well, find it out on part dos of this entry, to be concluded later tonight.