Jakarta. Indonesia’s major land transport operators have expressed interest in energy-saving electric vehicles, but a lack of infrastructure and the staggering price tags may need government intervention to resolve the issues.
That was the key excerpt from a recent webinar involving the country’s biggest taxi company Blue Bird, oldest public bus operator Damri, municipally-owned city bus operator TransJakarta and electric bus distributor Bakrie Autoparts.
"Electric vehicle penetration will grow rapidly in the future and everybody shares the opinion that EV represents a modern means of transportation," Prayoga Wiradisuria, electric vehicle project leader at Blue Bird, said in the teleconference.
Blue Bird is the first Indonesian transport operator to acquire electric vehicles, currently operating 29 electric vehicles of a mix of Chinese BYD and American Tesla brands.
Prayoga said it took a long time and many considerations before Blue Bird finally decided to buy EVs and began their operations last year.
“The commercial use of EVs as taxis is revolutionary in Jakarta and it will expand further and prompt other companies to follow suit,” Prayoga said.
However, EV expansion will require supportive government regulations regarding import duties, electricity tariff and availability of charging stations, he added.
Damri meanwhile still has no EVs in its fleets but managing director Setia Milatia Moemin said the company has laid out a plan to acquire them sooner than later.
"We actually have come out with the plan to buy electric buses but the Covid-19 outbreak put it on hold," she said.
Setia added there is no change in the plan except for the rescheduling and Damri looks forward to operating electric buses in the near future.
The company even hired a consultant firm to make business assessment on the use of electric buses and they came to a conclusion that it will be beneficial in the long term, she said.
"Yes EVs are very costly at the initial stage but they will eventually produce profits in the long run. We need the government support to issue inter-ministerial regulations," Setia said.
President Joko Widodo issued a decree last year calling for the accelerated use of electric vehicles in public transportation.
TransJakarta is another company that has acquired electric buses, currently on a three-month road trial. During the trial, those BYD buses transport passengers between City Hall and Blok M business center, one of TransJakarta busiest routes, to get the real urban road conditions.
"Those buses have gone through a legality process and are deemed fit to operate on street routes," Ery Priawan, the head of TransJakarta engineering and development division, told the video conference.
Bakrie Autoparts president director and CEO Dino A. Ryandi said the company got involved in the EV business to help tackle pollution problems, which is largely attributable to emission from combustion vehicles.
"Indonesia is one of the signatories of the Paris Accord on Climate Change, so we must ensure that by 2025 at least 23 percent of our public transportation will be using renewable energy sources," he said.
Bakrie Autoparts is the sole distributor of electric buses produced by Chinese automaker BYD Auto.
Dino said BYD is China’s biggest EV producer with a notable global reach as it now becomes the largest electric bus supplier in the global markets.
"There is also one important thing: BYD supports technology transfer policy, so it will be much beneficial for us to produce the vehicle locally, and by mostly using local Indonesian parts," he said.
He said a presidential decree alone won’t be enough to accommodate the growing need for electric vehicles. It would take ministerial regulations to ensure clear rules of the game before EV penetration can expand in the country.