Indonesia Courts Geely To Assist In Its Dream Of A Homegrown EV

Indonesia apparently wishes to develop a homegrown electric car within the next three years. 

It seems that the recent flourishing of Proton under its new Chinese masters has been noticed by our neighbours across the Malacca strait, as Indonesia has also apparently recently approached Geely and requested its assistance in the development of a homegrown EV. 

Yes, you read that right, the Indonesian state is apparently currently looking into developing its own EV, with ambitious plans for launch by 2025 at the earliest. Though in terms of surprising developments, it is perhaps the news that Geely actually agreeing to assist in this project that probably takes the cake here. 

Now just before officially consummating Geely’s affair with our neighbour however, it is worth highlighting that this agreement was only communicated by the Indonesian government. The Chinese automaker meanwhile is still remaining resolutely mum on this issue, with no comment given to Reuters, who incidentally were the ones who broke this story. 

So what’s going on then? Well, at least according to Minister Luhut Pandjaitan, Coordinating Minister of Maritime and Investment Affairs of Indonesia, the Indonesian government has supposedly extended an invitation to Geely to produce cars within the country. The state did also stipulate in said invite for the cars to be produced from this collaboration will be marketed under an Indonesian brand, with research for its development will also be conducted within the country too. 

Though in exchange for these terms set, the Indonesian government has proposed that it will be the ones to supply the nickel ore required in the production of its EV batteries. And while highly likely for this to not be the full terms of the agreement, the deal that was made was nevertheless apparently sweet enough for Geely to at least attempt for a fling with our Indonesian neighbours. 

The word ‘attempt’ from the sentence above however is probably more pertinent than it may appear, as Geely is not to be the first automaker that Indonesia has attempted to court for its homegrown EV ambitions. Both Tesla and BYD for instance were previously pursued by the state to kickstart Indonesia’s EV dreams, but thus far no concrete plans from either these EV giants have materialised. 

Having said that, Indonesia’s world-leading nickel ore reserves has in any case attracted some other more moderate EV players into the country. VinFast for instance has recently announced that it plans to invest around RM 5.6 billion into the country, and also targets to begin local production of its cars there in 2026. It was reported too that courtesy of Indonesia’s generous EV incentives, both China’s Hozon New Energy Automobile and Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors has since begun plans for local EV production. 

Mobile World Congress 2022

Getting back to Indonesia’s homegrown EV ambitions though, it is worth pointing out that  a foreign automaker producing cars within the country and developing a homegrown car from scratch are to be two totally different kettles of fish. And while this project may be overseen by one of the greatest turnaround-masters within the auto industry, let’s just think for a minute there on exactly how many state-owned automakers are still around today…

Joshua Chin

Automotive journalist. Professional work on and Personal writing found at Instagram: @driveeveryday

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