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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Will Indonesia’s EV Dream Come True? Car Shoppers Are Not Convinced Yet

Indonesia’s government used the Jakarta auto show to double down on plans to drive production and sales of electric vehicles in Southeast Asia’s largest auto market, but buyers still need to be sold. The price premium on electric vehicles, questions about the availability of charging stations, and doubts about new brands are among the factors keeping car shoppers from ditching their gasoline-powered steeds for greener alternatives.

The electric vehicle (E.V.) revolution is still in its early days. Still, the government and investors are doubling down on their plans to make Indonesia one of the world’s biggest hubs for eco-friendly cars. The country is boosting production of E.V. batteries and cutting import duties on the vehicles to bring down prices for buyers.

The country has also set ambitious targets to produce E.V.s, hoping to sell around 600,000 by 2030. That would be more than 100 times the number of E.V.s sold in the country in 2022. The industry ministry is also working with local and foreign companies to develop local production of electric engines.

In the meantime, automakers are bringing new models to the market, including the popular Hyundai Ioniq 5, starting at less than $45,000 in Indonesia. Chinese E.V. maker Neta Overseas debuted three models at the show and offers pre-orders for its Neta V crossover. At the same time, Great Wall Motor Group showcased a compact electric hatchback with “cat-like features” and cheerful colors.

Many visitors to the auto show in Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, said the new offerings had swayed them but were holding back for now because they want to see how well a car performs before committing. For many, the key will be the ease of driving an E.V. outside the capital.

There are just over 22,800 public charging stations in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) E.V. Charging Station Map. Still, those are not always convenient to find and may only offer Level 2 charging, which is slow and only gets drivers about 20 to 25 miles per hour of range. The DOE says more high-speed D.C. fast-charging stations are being built.

For those wanting to avoid the hassle of finding a charger, some apps and websites will point them in the direction of nearby outlets, but most e-car drivers have yet to try one out, and there are no guarantees they will work.

Ride-hailing giant Gojek, which has 2 million driver partners in Indonesia and wants all its cars to be electric by 2030, is pushing consumers to switch to the new technology. The company offers subsidies for E.V.s, including free charging for the first five years. Whether that will be enough to spur widespread adoption of the cars remains to be seen. The government is planning a progressive tax structure on emissions and fuel consumption that should help push demand higher, but the timing will be crucial.

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