Low-cost green cars: But at what cost?
The Jakarta Post
As the tireless polemic on low- cost green cars (LCGC) continues across traditional media and social networks, prospective buyers are also beginning to sing the same tune.
Yulia Hendriani, a resident of Meruya in West Jakarta, said she had checked out Japanese LCGCs only to decide that they did not suit her interests.
'They seem too light and I am worried about their safety. I would rather choose a Honda Jazz or Toyota Yaris, which are smaller but good quality,' she told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the 21st Indonesia International Motor Show (IIMS) in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta, on Saturday.
The 21-year-old said the LCGC policy was a hot topic among her friends, especially those worried about the cars exacerbating the congestion problems in big cities, such as Jakarta, and those who doubted the safety and reliability of public transportation.
'LCGCs are not so green because as more people buy them fossil fuel consumption will double. Cars that run on bio-ethanol energy would be better,' she said.
It was hard to miss the 'it' cars during the event, as visitors flocked to Japanese automakers' booths to check out Toyota's Agya, Daihatsu's Ayla and Honda's Brio Satya .
'I am still in a dilemma whether to buy a second hand Toyota Vios or this new car. I am looking for something smaller to drive to work,' Lucia Windianto, 38, said while looking at a blue Agya.
Meanwhile, another visitor, Slamet, bought one a LCGC at a similar exhibition last year. He said he was looking for an affordable new car and was sold on the fact that it could travel 20 kilometers on one liter of fuel.
'I had ordered a grey Agya for my daughter last year. She is in college now, so when she begins to earn money, she can buy a more expensive car for herself,' he said.
The policy of LCGCs has sparked an increasing protest from numerous regional heads, including Jakarta Governor Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo. He recently sent Vice President Boediono an official letter, questioning the central government's car policy, which he said would undermine his administration's move to cut the number of private cars and promote mass rapid transportation.
Responding to Jokowi's letter, Boediono said that it was not necessary to restrict car sales and the government would invite the city administration to collaborate on the implementation of electronic road pricing (ERP) to control the use of cars.
The plan to implement ERP has been stalled by a numer of excuses, including legal issues, technology and the lack of decent public transportation.
Transportation expert Darmaningtyas hailed the ERP plan as a good starting point.
'Academic studies on ERP have been made since 2006, but this is all about political willingness from the authority,' he told the Post over the phone.
According to him, the government should pass a transportation policy that supported the development of safe, cheap and rapid public transportation, instead of controversial policies that benefited foreign automakers.
'The government's stance seems clear: Public transportation does not make money, while the production and trade of private cars does,' he said.
It is projected that the LCGC policy would boost car sales by 50,000 from a target of 1.1 million this year. PT Astra International aims to sell 30,000 LCGCs by the year end. It has already received orders for 10,000 Toyota Agya and 8,000 Daihatsu Ayla.
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