Toyota's Beginning in Indonesia

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The first car produced in Indonesia was not a car from Japan, but from the US. The first manufacturer to make cars in the country was General Motors (GM) which established a factory in Tanjung Priok in 1920.

According to Indonesian automotive journalist James Luhulima in Car History & Stories of the Presence of Cars in this Country (2012), the factory at that time was still limited to assembling several components into a complete car. In 1938, the factory was expanded and became the main supplier of American cars before being sent to big cities such as Surabaya, Yogyakarta, and others.

Unfortunately, World War I and II had an impact on the cessation of factory activities in the north of Jakarta. The uncertain situation at the beginning of Indonesia's independence period contributed to the stagnation of factory activities. Moreover, the Dutch's desire to regain control of Indonesia made the situation even more complicated.

Finally, after the Round Table Conference was signed in 1949, the Netherlands handed over sovereignty to Indonesia unconditionally. The economic situation is gradually improving, but the development of the automotive industry is still disrupted. Especially after the nationalization of Dutch companies, including GM in it.

The factory was then acquired by the government and revived around the 1970s when Astra was taken over to assemble Chevrolet trucks. Not long ago, the government issued a regulation that required companies to establish a sole agent brand holder (ATPM) before marketing cars in Indonesia.

Astra immediately welcomed the rules by establishing PT Toyota Astra Motor (TAM) as Toyota's ATPM in Indonesia. The factory later changed its name to Gaya Motor (GM), and has since started producing factory alert cars bearing the 'T' logo.

Even so, Toyota's presence in Indonesia actually started before the 1970s. In 1961, James Luhulima noted, as many as 100 units of Toyota jeeps with canvas roofs aka Land Cruiser FJ Series were purchased by the Ministry of Transmigration, Cooperatives, and Village Community Development to be distributed to regions (page 100).

The presence of the Land Cruiser as Toyota's initial generation in Indonesia was not alone, at that time several Toyota Tiara units were also imported by the late AH Budi, founder of the Nasmoco Group (page 101). These cars may be the first wave of Japanese cars entering Indonesia, which was then followed by other brands.

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