Jakarta. A senior Indonesian minister has encouraged Chinese carmaker Wuling Motors to produce and sell electric vehicles here as soon as possible amid the apparent reluctance of Japanese automotive giants to begin a speedy transition to emission-free cars.
Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the coordinating minister for maritime affairs and investment, visited Wuling Motors Indonesia’s assembly plant in the West Java town of Cikarang on Thursday to hear the company’s plan in manufacturing EVs in Indonesia.
“Hopefully sales can begin sooner rather than later, if possible by the end of 2022 so that people can shift to electric cars much earlier,” Luhut said in a statement.
During the visit, Luhut was accompanied by Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi and Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin.
The high-profile government team was received by Wuling Motors President Director Shi Guoyong and the company’s vice president Arif Pramadana.
According to the company, Luhut supports Wuling’s plan for EV production in the Indonesian plant.
“We are serious in bringing the technology and investment to embrace the era of electric vehicles. Wuling certainly needs support from the government to jointly build EV ecosystem in Indonesia,” Shi was quoted in the company’s website.
He didn't say when EV production in Indonesia will begin.
He said Wuling has heavily invested in “world-class” production plant and supply system in Indonesia, which now also sells Wuling cars to export markets.
Wuling has emerged as China’s number one EV producer by selling 200,000 units in the first seven months of the year in the domestic market.
The government team was shown several Wuling EV models which Luhut tested around the factory.
Since the Indonesian plant became operational in July 2017, Wuling has recorded a strong growth in sales in Southeast Asia’s biggest country.
Wuling wholesales jumped from 5,050 units in 2017 to 17,002 in the following year, and rose to 22,343 in 2019, according to data from the Indonesian Automotive Manufacturers Association (Gaikindo).
After the sluggish 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, during which Wuling’s wholesales fell to just 6,581, figures rebounded to 10,973 in the first half of 2021.
Luhut has accused Japanese automakers of dragging their heels when it comes to EV production in Indonesia.
He told a group of alumni of the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) last year that government’s EV ambition makes the Japanese unhappy and that the country is “under Japan’s technology colonialism”.
“Japan is angry with us. They asked why we didn’t consider developing hybrid cars first. And I was accused of being pro-China,” the retired army general said.
“Why should we go hybrid while we can directly develop electric vehicles?” he added.