The Jakarta Post
Research and Technology Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta launched on Friday an electric car tryout and familiarization program at Gadjah Mada University (UGM) in Yogyakarta as part of preparations for the limited production of the environmentally friendly vehicles by 2016.
'Tryouts will also be held in other cities such as Surakarta [Central Java], Surabaya [East Java], Bandung [West Java] and Jakarta,' Gusti said on the sidelines of the tryout on Friday.
He added that the familiarization program was a way to introduce electric cars to the public at large.
During the tryout, Gusti, together with UGM Rector Pratikno, tested three electric cars, namely a sports sedan called Selo, a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) called Gendhis and a city car.
Gusti said that in the future, electric cars were expected to replace gasolene-run vehicles because they were environmentally friendly and did not cause pollution.
Since being developed by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) in 2008, he said the electric car project had now reached the final stages before they would be ready for production.
'If, say, we have nine stages in all, we are now at the end of the seventh stage and we are about to enter the eighth stage,' the minister said.
He expressed with confidence that the limited production of the cars by 2015 was quite possible. However, there were many non-technical issues that needed to be addressed before entering the production stage.
The cars, therefore, are projected to enter the limited production stage by 2016. Limited in this case means that the products will be used only for limited purposes, like as the official cars for government institutions.
'It is expected that limited production will begin in 2016 for mayors, regents and other officials,' Gusti said.
So far, he added, the main challenge with electric cars was their battery because till now, they were still being imported and their size was considered too big.
'We will continue to push and challenge technology researchers to create a more efficient battery for electric cars,' Gusti said.
Separately, UGM Rector Pratikno said that with regard to the main challenge in the development of electric cars, his side would focus more on the research and development of battery technology.
'Production matters are the concern of the assembling companies. Our focus is creating the technology, in this case producing a battery that is capable of saving power,' Pratikno said.
UGM researchers, he added, had been supported and pushed to create more effective and efficient battery prototypes for electric cars.
'Our success in creating a battery for electric cars will help Indonesia achieve its goal of becoming technologically independent,' Pratikno said.