Jokowi's Indonesia-made car to start mass production next year

Jokowi's Indonesia-made car to start mass production next year
Indonesian-made Esemka cars, on display at Solo Techno Park.

The Esemka, a locally made car, which once contributed to the skyrocketing popularity of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, is reportedly due to begin mass production next year.

Spokesperson for the car producer PT Solo Manufaktur Kreasi (Esemka), Sabar Budi Samekto, revealed that his firm had signed a cooperation agreement with the Surakarta Muhammadiyah University (UMS) and the Chinese Beijing Automotive Group Co. Ltd. (BAIC) at the beginning of this month.

"We hope the production of Esemka cars will rise to about 500 units a month," Sabar said over the weekend, adding that so far the company had produced 300 cars.

The cooperation with the various parties, according to Sabar, was a way of realizing the pledge to produce all of the components of the cars domestically.

"At this stage we will indeed assemble cars some of whose components come from BAIC. In the future hopefully we will come up with cars really made in Indonesia," Sabar said.

The first Esemka car, formerly called the Kiat Esemka, was produced by students of SMK 1 Trucuk, a state-run vocational high school in Klaten, Central Java, in 2011.

The cars made headlines after Jokowi, then Surakarta mayor and now President, decided to use them as official vehicles for himself and for his then deputy mayor FX Hadi Rudyatmo.

The cars underwent emission tests twice in 2012 at the Serpong Propulsion and Motor Thermodynamics Center (BTMP) in South Tangerang before they were declared to have passed the test in mid 2012 with the Euro 2 car standard.

The car-production project was reportedly neglected after Jokowi was elected Jakarta governor two years ago and then elected as the country's president this year.

Sabar said that although it had been a long time since news had been heard of the car, Esemka continued being produced in 10 different locations across Java.

According to Sabar, an average of 10 Esemka units had been produced monthly since 2013. A sports utility vehicle (SUV) model sells for Rp 140 million (US$11,200) while the pick-up goes for Rp 65 million.

Separately, UMS Rector Bambang Setiaji said the university had prepared a 4-hectare site in Kartasura, Sukoharjo, in Central Java for the Esemka production.

Bambang said the allotted site was proof of the university's seriousness in following up the cooperation with PT Esemka and BAIC.

He said UMS has decided to support the move to mass produce the cars as a way of creating a stimulus for the revival of the idea of Indonesian national-car production, which been repeatedly initiated but so far to little avail.

He said to make the national-car production programme a success government intervention was needed. One way of doing so, according to Bambang, was by encouraging state officials to use the national cars for their own transportation.

"The government must encourage people to use national cars," Bambang said.

Last April PT SMK handed over 40 Esemka SUVs and pick ups. They were the first production lot and were all produced at an SMK in Tangerang, Banten.

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