The last few years haven't been easy for Chevrolet in many South East Asian markets.

With dropping sales and failures of some key models to gain traction in the markets they're in, it wasn't long before we would have seen them pull out of one -hopefully not some- markets.

Almost a year ago, the Malaysian distributor of Chevrolet said it has stopped selling the brand's models given their low performance on the sales charts, presumably making it un-profitable for them to keep up sales operations.

Now it has happened again: Chevrolet has just announced that they will be stopping sales in Indonesia effective March 2020.

Chevrolet backing out from major South East Asian market image

"Globally, GM is taking tough actions to focus its capital and resources. This difficult decision is consistent with GM’s global strategy to focus on markets where there is a clear pathway to sustainable profitability," said Hector Villareal, General Motors Southeast Asia president.

In the announcement, General Motors says that they will stop selling brand new Chevrolet vehicles in Indonesia at the end of Q1 next year, though it did mention that they will continue to service customers for maintenance, repair, and honor warranties.

"In Indonesia, we lack the scale and domestic manufacturing footprint to sustainably compete in the volume segments of the market. These factors have also made our operations more exposed to broader factors in Indonesia, like softening commodity prices and foreign currency pressures," continued Villareal.

Chevrolet backing out from major South East Asian market image

Upon checking with Gaikindo, Indonesia's auto industry counterpart to CAMPI and AVID, Chevrolet only sold 970 vehicles in the country from January to September 2019 (year to date) which is a 48.6% drop compared to the same period last year. That's a 0.1% market share compared to the YTD sales of the Indonesian market at 753,594 vehicles.

"Regrettably, this decision impacts a number of our small team of employees, who GM will support with an appropriate severance package and transition support. We are committed to supporting our stakeholders through the transition," said GM's boss for the region.

The announcement means that Chevrolet is the latest automaker to cease sales operations in Indonesia, following the pull-out of Ford Indonesia in 2016, as well as the legal problems encountered by Subaru Indonesia.

Much of the problems of Chevrolet in South East Asia stem from the failures of several key models to gain significant market shares like the Spin, Trax, and the Sonic. The Chevrolet Spin is of particular note; it's an MPV that's meant to compete with the likes of the Toyota Avanza, but they ceased production not too long after the launch in 2013.

Chevrolet backing out from a major South East Asian market image

In the Philippines, the sales story is also worrying for Chevy. Chevrolet is pinning their hopes on the Trailblazer in our market given our affinity for pick-up passenger vehicles (PPVs) or SUVs, but sales have likewise slumped in the last few years. In 2012, Chevrolet sold just 3,328 units, but when the Trailblazer was launched Chevrolet's total sales rose to 5,058 units (+52%) in 2013, followed by 8,046 units in 2014 (+59.1%).

Since 2015, however, the brand has experienced a fairly steady and sharp decline in sales. In 2015, they sold 7,382 units (-8.3%), but the year after that dropped to 2016's volume of 5,931 units (-19.66%). Since they had banked their volume on the Trailblazer, they fell prey to 2016's many new all-new SUV models such as the Ford Everest, Mitsubishi Montero Sport, and Toyota Fortuner.

Even with the excise tax scare that prompted car buyers to purchase early in the Philippines, Chevrolet only rose to 5,949 units (+0.30%) in 2017, followed by a sharp decline in 2018 to 4,017 units (-32.48%).

For the first eight months this year (2019), Chevrolet has only sold 1,884 units.

So, the next question is: what can Chevrolet do, especially since there does not appear to be another all-new Colorado, Trailblazer or other competitive ASEAN-made models in the near future?