Toyota Avanza
Toyota Avanza – 7 seats at an affordable price

Everyone is reporting a trend in vehicle size downsizing in efforts to reduce fuel consumption and emissions as well as reduce cost of purchase/ownership in these financially depressing times. For those who travel alone or with one or two passengers most of the time it is easy, but motorists who have to lug a whole family around its going to be hard to find something to fall back on. This is probably the reason why the 7-seater Toyota Avanza is doing extremely well in Malaysia. There’s just nothing else.

Nissan Grand Livina
Nissan Grand Livina – good to drive thanks to its car-based chassis

The other car manufacturers are catching up though. Nissan’s more elegant answer to the Toyota Avanza is the Nissan Grand Livina – although more expensive than the Avanza it is enjoying brisk sales and currently has a waiting list. Our national carmarker Proton is also developing a new 7-seater MPV and spyshots of the Proton MPV have already been posted on this blog, so check it out. The Proton MPV is probably the most eagerly awaited of all, given the “Proton discount” that its price tag is most likely going to have, it’s probably going to offer the most space for the least amount of money out of all the new MPVs coming out next year.

Honda Freed
The Honda Freed – it can even sit 8!

Honda has always had a few vehicles that could sit more than 5 people based on the Honda Jazz platform. You had the Honda Mobilio and Mobilio Spike which looked quite typically Japanese quirky and may not be tuned to ASEAN tastes (Suzuki suffered a similiar fate with the Suzuki APV which looked like a Juara-ish K-van), but the newly launched Honda Freed based on the Jazz platform as well looks like it could have potential in the ASEAN region.

In fact there were rumours going around a few months ago right after the Freed’s unveiling that Honda would be ASEAN-izing the Freed and setting up a production base in Indonesia for it, though these still remain rumours at the time being.

Hyundai i20
Could a 7-seater stretched Hyundai i20 platform work?

Kia is also coming up with a baby MPV codenamed the YN based on the same platform as the Kia Soul and the Hyundai i20, and if they’re smart they should seriously consider developing a 6 or 7-seater version for emerging markets! Although Korean cars have quite some way to go here in Malaysia, Kia seems to be doing quite alright when it comes to value people movers, just look at the amount of Naza Ria and Naza Citras around. It will be unveiled at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show in March next year. A locally assembled, 7-seater version of this upcoming baby MPV could be a sales hit if the launch timing is right, but of course it will face competition from both the Proton MPV and another local competitor, likely to be the cheapest 6/7-seater in Malaysia, the upcoming Perodua MPV.

Toyota Sienta
Been there, done that. Expect the new Perodua MPV to follow the formula of the Toyota Sienta, but not necessarily its looks!

The Perodua MPV will be based on a new MPV being developed by Toyota and Daihatsu at a cost of 180 million USD including expanding manufacturing capacity in Indonesia. The development and production schedule seems on track for a Q1 2009 international revealing in Indonesia next year, and Perodua’s Datuk Hafiz Syed Abu Bakar has stated in an interview early this year that a Perodua-badged version of the MPV will be launched in September 2009. But for a statement made so long ago, bear in mind it could be outdated by now and in fact it may have been pushed earlier because of the Proton MPV!