Indonesia’s transition to electric vehicles requires a change of mindset – The Diplomat

Switching to electric vehicles in Indonesia requires a change of mindset

A Hyundai electric car is being charged at a PLN charging station in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Credit: Depositphotos

Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world and most of this population is concentrated in its major cities. Jakarta, Medan, Surabaya and Bandung alone are home to 17 million people. This number could increase by millions during working hours due to the influx of passengers coming from remote areas in search of work. With a daily amount of more 4 million cars and 21.7 million motorcycles on the roads, these cities are notorious for their traffic congestion. Daily commutes typically take several hours, resulting in frustration, wasted time and decreased productivity for commuters.

Such heavy mobility not only creates inconvenience, but also contributes to a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions. The transport sector in Jakarta radiates a stunning 182.5 million tons of CO2 per yearmaking it one of the most polluted capitals in the world.

The Indonesian government has recognized this problem and is currently taking steps to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles (EV). He hopes that by reducing the number of fossil fuel vehicles, emissions will gradually decrease and the air quality in these cities will improve. To achieve this goal, the government promoted its EV program by appointing the state-owned electricity company PLN ase market leader in the electric vehicle charging industry, and last week announced incentive scheme for the purchase of an electric car.

This campaign worked to some extent. Cars with a blue line under the license plate are more common than at the beginning of the decade. As of November 2022 over 7,600 electric vehicles and 25,700 electric motorcycles silently hummed through Indonesian streets, more than five times the number in 2021.

PLN predicts that if Indonesia follows the electric vehicle roadmap as planned, 16,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2025, growing to 600,000 by 2030.. This significant increase in the number of electric vehicles on the roads indicates that people are beginning to realize that switching to a new mode of transport has many benefits, from environmental benefits to low long-term costs of operating an electric vehicle, not to mention that owning an electric vehicle is associated with more social prestige among Indonesia’s upper class.

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However, government efforts to develop an integrated electric vehicle infrastructure in Indonesia remain in the very early stages. The slow development of a network of charging stations and battery replacement stations made people think about their own electric car. In addition to the high cost of acquisition, the limited number of charging stations makes it difficult for electric vehicle owners, especially residents of high-rise residential buildings or employees whose homes or offices do not have chargers, to find a parking space. This is a major concern as the lack of a reliable network of charging stations will hamper the EV program and the promised benefits of the transition will not be seen.

The EV switchover program is also not well thought out in terms of the broader transport context. Since it does not include a plan to reduce the total number of cars on the roads, the government’s goal of increasing the use of electric vehicles will only lead to more congestion.

Perhaps the solution to reduce emissions in the transport sector is the old-fashioned and less sophisticated refrain that has been chanted for decades by residents of Indonesia’s congested cities: “Provide better public transport services.” The government should focus on developing the public transport system and introduce additional incentives for public transport to carry all passengers in its main urban areas. This will have a greater impact on reducing emissions and reducing traffic congestion.

The government should also first encourage the use of electric vehicles in the public transport system. For example, buses and taxis could be replaced with electric models, further reducing emissions and improving air quality. There are currently about 30 electric buses registered with TransJakarta. is a state-owned transport company that plans to replenish its fleet with another 270 in 2023. This initiative should be implemented nationwide. The government could also invest in developing charging stations specifically for public transport vehicles, which would make it easier for these vehicles to operate on an all-electric basis.

A long-term solution could be to expand opportunities and improve living conditions in satellite areas surrounding metropolitan areas in order to reduce the number of daily passengers traveling to big cities. By improving the economy and infrastructure of satellite areas, people will be encouraged to live and work there, reducing the need to commute long distances to work in Jakarta or Surabaya. Moreover, the government should focus on developing urban transport that can transport people from one place to another efficiently.

In conclusion, while the government’s plan to encourage the transition to electric vehicles is a step in the right direction, the focus must first be on developing a reliable public transport system and expanding the capabilities of satellite zones. By reducing reliance on private vehicles and encouraging the use of public transport, greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion can be reduced. This, in turn, will ensure a smoother transition to an integrated electric vehicle ecosystem, making Indonesia a cleaner and more sustainable place to live.