Dahlan wants untested cars for APEC VIPs

A minister says he wants to use locally made electric cars to ferry guests at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, despite his previous failure to develop such vehicles.

According to State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Minister Dahlan Iskan, several local manufacturers have won tenders to produce eight VIP buses, seven luxury SUVs, 10 minibuses and one sports car for the summit in October.

“The upcoming APEC Summit in Bali will be the best arena to show the world that Indonesia has the ability,” the minister said, claiming that the summit also offered the nation a chance to show its commitment to energy conservation.

Dahlan said that some state-owned enterprises have agreed to foot the bill for the project, declining to name the firms, although reports identified the companies as state electricity firm PT PLN and Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI), among others.

“These SOEs will own the cars after the summit concludes,” Dahlan said.

Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa said that some of the cars would be used to shuttle heads of state and government during the summit, as reported by Antara news agency.

Hatta said that the government would also impose a ban on oil-fuelled vehicles from entering the Nusa Dua enclave during the summit.

Meanwhile, Dahlan said that the buses would transport officials and delegates between venues and that the sports car would only be a showcase vehicle. “Delegates can also take a test drive if they want.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Michael Tene said on Tuesday that he did not have details on whether state guests at the summit would use locally made electric cars.

However, Tene added that Dahlan and Hatta both had the authority to speak on the subject.

Dahlan’s plans to create prototype electric cars for local mass production have been criticized by local carmakers as premature and overly ambitious. The minister, who has frequently touted himself as potential presidential candidate, is notorious for his many mishaps with electric vehicles, among his other attention-seeking antics.

In July 2012, for example, a prototype electric car Dahlan was driving broke down three times on a trip from Depok, West Java, to downtown Jakarta due to battery failures.

The designer and manufacturer of the ill-fated car, Dasep Ahmadi, is a member of the consortium appointed by the government to produce cars for the summit.

And in January, Dahlan was injured after the brakes of another prototype electric car he was travelling in failed, causing the vehicle to plow into a utility pole and another car in Magetan, East Java.

The Rp 1.5 billion (US$154,480) car was severely damaged, prematurely ending Dahlan’s 250-kilometer test ride from Surakarta, Central Java, to Surabaya, East Java.

Dahlan, who was criticized for blatantly disregarding traffic rules during the crash, was not charged with traffic violations, although the prototype car was not certified as roadworthy and the vehicle’s license plates were unofficial and had not been registered with the police.

The minister later pledged that his next electric car project would be a success, as the nation’s reputation would be at stake. “We will bring those cars for a series of tests and certification processes.”

Dahlan said that the government has appointed PT Nipress to produce batteries for the cars. The company has begun construction of a Rp 15 billion factory in Bekasi, West Java, which will have a capacity of producing 20 car batteries per day.

Meanwhile, a member of Bali Legislative Council, Tjokorda Gede Asmara Putra Sukawati, said that pushing the use of locally made electric cars at a major international event such as the APEC summit would be a risky gamble.

“I am doubtful if supporting facilities will be ready by the time the summit starts,” he said.

Bagus BT Saragih, The Jakarta Post

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