President Joko Widodo launches the electric car Hyundai Ioniq 5 at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Indonesia, Bekasi, West Java on March 16, 2022. (Twitter @jokowi)

Roadblocks to Indonesia’s EV Adoption


MARCH 17, 2022

Jakarta. Indonesia needs to tackle several roadblocks to further boost the adoption of electric vehicles, or EVs, according to the top brass at Vektr Mobiliti Indonesia, a subsidiary of the business group Bakrie & Brothers.

Indonesia has set a goal to reach net-zero emission by 2060 or sooner. The transport sector emits 26 percent of Indonesia’s carbon dioxide emissions, making it necessary for the Southeast Asian country to drive the EV uptake. 


According to Vektr chief executive officer Gilarsi W. Setijono, the initial investment of the emission-free vehicle, which can be quite high, is a barrier to widespread EV adoption.

“The initial investment for EV is not cheap. It is generally almost twice the capex [capital expenditure] of the combustion [engine vehicles]. But then again, the EV has greater longevity. So if we talk about the total cost of ownership, it will pay back somewhat during the EV’s lifecycle,” Gilarsi said at a virtual conference on Wednesday.

“But then again, it requires education and financing models to allow people to adopt and buy [EVs], given its quite high initial investment,” he added.

Another roadblock is the charging infrastructure. The more EVs are on the roads, the higher the need for charging stations.

This is a role that not only the government can play, but also the private sector, Gilarsi said. He suggested the government could oblige commercial buildings to allocate a certain percentage of their lands for charging stations. 

During the conference, Gilarsi also talked about the government’s efforts to mainstream EV as civil servants’ official vehicles.

“While the government pushes for EVs [among its officials], there are not many models available in the country. Because car manufacturers prefer to produce left-hand drive rather than right-hand drive. Meanwhile, we would require different [EV] models depending on the government echelons,” Gilarsi said.

“Perhaps by allowing Indonesia to be more open to CBUs [completely built units] for a certain quota, we could promote EV adoption,” he said.

News outlet Kompas reported last November that the government had designed a roadmap for EV usage at government agencies. By 2030, the government is expected to have 132,983 electric-powered cars and 398,530 electric motorcycles for its operational needs.

Gilarsi called for local governments to issue policies to woo people to use EVs. 

The Jakarta Provincial government, for instance, has exempted electric-powered cars from the odd-even traffic policy. A vehicle whose license plate ends with an odd number can only travel through certain roads on odd-numbered dates and vice versa. 

EVs, however, are exempt from this policy, making traveling more convenient for emission-free vehicle users.

“We need to have more policies [by] the local governments to encourage EV adoption,” Gilarsi said.

Electric buses are parked at the National Monument (Monas) Square in a ceremony marking their service with municipal land transport operator TransJakarta on March 8, 2022. (Antara Photo/Aprillio Akbar)
Electric buses are parked at the National Monument (Monas) Square in a ceremony marking their service with municipal land transport operator TransJakarta on March 8, 2022. (Antara Photo/Aprillio Akbar)

Last week, municipal land transport operator TransJakarta began to operate 30 electric buses. The electric bus was part of a partnership between Vektr and Chinese automaker BYD Auto.

"We have to remove these roadblocks together. We cannot do it alone. Vektr is trying to pioneer this movement so that everybody else can join us to get rid of the roadblocks," Gilarsi told the virtual discussion.

The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) revealed Indonesia had about 15.7 million passenger cars on its roads in 2020. Whereas the number of motorcycles stood at 115 million units. 

The EV population in Indonesia, however, still remains low. 

The Transportation Ministry, as reported by news outlet CNN Indonesia, reported that the country only had 14,400 EVs as of mid-November 2021. Of that number, 12,464 were electric motorcycles and 1,656 electric-powered passenger cars. According to the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, the number of EV charging units reached 187 units as of Sep. 2021.