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Indonesia: We do not need electric cars except for public transport

We have been witnessing euphoria about electric car production in our public discourse, with the government aiming to mass produce 10,000 such vehicles in 2014. The talk about electric cars emerges hot on the heels of a government policy to curb fuel subsidies.

As part of that policy, the government once planned to promote the use of gas for the transportation sector. Electric cars, however, are a more likely answer to address mounting pressures on fuel subsidies resulting from increased fossil fuel consumption.

Moreover, with growing public awareness of global warming and the increasingly urgent need to reduce carbon emissions, the role of electric cars in our transportation system looks unavoidable. The next questions are: “How ready are we?” and “How should we deal with this electric car discourse?”

Electric cars are not new. Technology for electric-powered cars was first developed in the 19th century, although it is unclear who exactly started developing the technology. Some sources say that in 1828, a Hungarian, Anyos Jedlik, developed an early type of electric engine, which was used to power a car. In the United States, Thomas Davenport developed an electric engine, which installed in a mini car model in 1834.

However, the development of electric-powered cars did not last long due to the development of technology using internal combustion offering more powerful thrust, the capacity to power a vehicle longer distances and energy that was relatively cheaper than electric cars in terms of battery installation. The battery in an electric car is still more expensive and less economical than that in a conventional car.

Indeed, there are a number of social benefits of electric cars when compared to petroleum-fueled cars.

First, the use of electrical energy derived from domestic power generation will increase economic growth. Second, the reduction of air pollution in cities will improve public health quality. Third, there is a reduction in noise levels. Fourth, the intensive use of electricity infrastructure will optimize the value to be gained from the electricity infrastructure; and, fifth, the potential for reducing renewable electricity integration costs.



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