Tuesday, 24th October 2017

Govt gears up for domestic production of hybrid, electric cars

29th May 2012 | 3.569 Views
Govt gears up for domestic production of hybrid, electric cars
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono board the vehicle hybrid electric (E)-smart in Gedung Agung, Yogyakarta, Friday (25/5). (ANTARA/Regina Safri)
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The government is preparing for the domestic production of hybrid and electric cars, as the nation is facing a fossil fuel crisis and trying to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

A hybrid car is one that employs two separate power sources - typically a gasoline-powered engine, along with an electric motor powered by rechargeable batteries.

Hybrid vehicles reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lessen the strain on non-renewable natural resources, while offering increased fuel efficiency.

Until now, most hybrid cars in Indonesia have been imported, although the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) has developed many prototypes of hybrid and electric cars over the past several years.

"We have conducted researches and developed hybrid cars since 2005," LIPI`s Transportation Department Head Abdul Hafid said in November 2011.

As the consumption of fossil fuel has increased drastically in the past few years, the government has asked several automotive companies to begin the mass production of hybrid and electric-powered vehicles by 2014, in line with its plans to reduce national fuel consumption and promote green economics.

Industry Minister MS Hidayat in Jakarta on Monday (May 28) said hybrid cars were fuel-efficient and could become a solution to the current energy crisis in Indonesia.

"The hybrid car can help reduce gas emissions and save fuel consumption. It`s in accordance with the government`s energy efficiency programme," he added.

For that purpose, Hidayat`s ministry will discuss a plan to provide incentives for hybrid car production this week.

He said for the time being hybrid cars would continue to be imported, because it was impossible to produce such cars in Indonesia in the near future.

"This week, the industry ministry will discuss the incentive scheme for hybrid cars with the finance ministry. If the incentive scheme is approved by the finance ministry, next week we will hold a meeting with automotive companies to talk about hybrid car imports," Hidayat added.

Several automotive companies such as Toyota said they could not produce hybrid cars by 2013, but might be able to do so by 2014.

Hidayat earlier said Toyota would consider producing a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) that could be sold at a price of Rp250 million.

"People want energy-efficient and affordable cars. And we have advised Toyota to produce hybrid cars that people like," he added.

Hidayat said Toyota would not be the only hybrid car producer for Indonesia, as the office had also asked Honda to present its hybrid car production plan in the country.

Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo also confirmed the government`s plan to provide incentives. He said he would offer a fiscal incentive to encourage the development of hybrid cars in Indonesia.

Agus noted the domestic automobile industry in the country was not yet developed enough to manufacture hybrid cars. However, he added, efforts to assemble hybrid cars in Indonesia must continue, so that it did not end up being an export market for foreign countries.

"We are trying to figure how the car can be produced in the country, so that we don`t have to import, which will only make the country a market for export products," Agus stated.

He said the government should make sure that alternative-energy automobiles were produced domestically in order to stimulate the economy, as well achieve long-term sustainability for the nation by fulfilling its need for environmentally friendly vehicles.

In addition to developing hybrid cars, the government must do more to control fuel consumption, the finance minister added.

Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Hatta Rajasa had also talked about the government`s plans to offer fiscal incentives to encourage production of hybrid cars in Indonesia.

"The government will encourage production of the cars in Indonesia, and for that we will provide an incentive in the form of tax duty or luxury tax cuts," he said.

Supporting the hybrid car programme, Energy and Mineral Resource Minister Jero Wacik said the use of hybrid cars would accelerate the government`s fuel-saving programme.

"The President is paying attention to hybrid cars for the purpose of energy saving," he noted.

Wacik recently announced the government would also cooperate with automotive company PT Astra International to introduce hybrid cars to Indonesia.

Incentives such as import tax reduction will help lower the price of hybrid cars, according to Chairman of the Indonesian Automotive Industry (Gaikindo) Sudirman Maman Rusdi.

Currently, the government imposes a 40 percent import tax and 20-75 percent luxury tax on hybrid cars, making the prices of such cars in Indonesia very high.

"Hybrid cars at affordable prices will be saleable. Besides, the cars` gas emission is very low and so it`s friendly to the environment," Sudirman said.

Besides hybrid cars, the government is mulling over electric cars in order to solve the nation`s energy problem and improve the environment.

Research and Technology Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta stated electric cars were very effective and efficient compared with conventional cars that ran on fossil fuel.

"As the research and technology minister, I always support the use of locally made products to meet the community`s needs," he said recently.

"Hopefully, with support from the President, the electric car project could be implemented soon," Gusti added.

A plan for the mass production of electric cars is being prepared by experts from four universities, including the Yogyakarta-based University of Gadjah Mada (UGM), the University of Indonesia (UI), the Technology Institute of Surabaya (ITS), and the Technology Institute of Bandung (ITB).

The research and technology ministry will oversee comprehensive research efforts on battery production and electricity-supplying facilities for electric cars, among other things.

The plan to produce electric cars was discussed at a meeting led by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Friday (May 25) in Yogyakarta.

The meeting was attended by more than half of the cabinet ministers and rectors of top state universities (UI, ITB, ITS, UNS, and UGM).

An electric car could be developed soon because these higher-learning institutes had long been conducting thorough research, studies and tests, State Enterprise Minister Dahlan Iskan said in his article published on Monday (May 28).

"In terms of technology, human resources, market and industry, we are capable of doing it," said Agus Darmadi, an electronics professor of UGM representing the rectors, in his presentation before the head of state.