VP Boediono Calls for More Gas-Powered Vehicles
Liberty Jemadu, Tito Summa Siahaan & Faisal Maliki Baskoro
Vice President Boediono called on the country’s car makers to start producing gas-consuming vehicles as early as next year, as it is considered more environmentally friendly and cheaper than gasoline.
Speaking during the opening of the Indonesia International Motor Show in Jakarta on Friday, Boediono said that the government wants the country’s natural gas reserves to be used in all different sectors, from electricity to transportation.
The government, the vice president said, will prioritize the development of gas-consuming vehicles next year because the archipelagic nation has plenty of natural gas reserves.
While car makers praised the government’s call, they also added a critical note.
Biswadev Sengupta, the president director of Tata Motors Indonesia, said his company’s plan to sell gas-consuming cars in Indonesia was being hurt by the fact that the country has few refilling stations for gas-based fuel, known as SPBG.
“We already produced a car that uses compressed natural gas, but before we can start to market it, we have to make sure that the infrastructure is there,” Sengupta said.
Currently there are 21 SPBG gas stations in Jakarta, with 10 more under construction. The government also plans to convert public transportation from using gasoline to use gas-based fuel. It includes a plan to build 33 additional SPGB gas stations across Indonesia and distribute converter kits for all public transportation operators.
Rudi Rubiandini, the deputy minister for energy and mineral resources, said the plan is still on schedule. “It [the gas stations] will start operating next year,” he added .
Furthermore, the deputy minister said that more SPBG gas stations will be build as the reserves are in abundance. “We have allocated some 40 million metric standard cubic feet per day (mmscfd) of natural gas, but only some will be used. Furthermore, we will get another 50 mmscfd [for these SPBG stations],” he added.
The government’s plans are also drawing interest from the private sector.
MM Christianti, business development manager of Autogas Indonesia, a company that distributes the converter kits, said the market is growing. “There are many people who have started installing the kits in their cars, both in public transportation as well as private cars,” Christianti said.
Christianti said that her company has sold some 800 converter kits since it began operations in September last year and has orders for 1,000 more.
The company, Christianti said, is participating in the procurement tender for 14,000 converter kits organized by the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, a small amount compared to some 11 million cars that roam Indonesian roads.
The government’s latest call was made amidst high industry optimism.
Sudirman Maman Rusdi, chairman of the Association of Indonesian Automotive Manufacturers (Gaikindo), said on Thursday that car sales by the country’s automakers would likely reach 1,050,000 units next year.
That is a 5 percent increase from this year’s target of 1 million units.
That increase, Sudirman said, was the “pessimistic scenario.” He did not disclose Gaikindo’s best-case scenario estimates.