Switching to Electric

Story By
John Thompson

Will you follow suit in making the switch as governments, companies and enthusiasts around the world do?

 

photo by freepik.com

 

Electric Vehicles are inevitable. The U.S. offers heavy subsidies, the UK, and many European countries aim to fully embrace E.V.’s by 2030, and Indonesian President Joko (Jokowi) Widodo has announced the new capital’s private-transport will be exclusively electric. As governments the world over plan to make the switch, here are several reasons you should too.

Despite a steep upfront cost, electric cars in Jakarta are actually approximately 30-40% cheaper to fuel than conventional cars. Electric mopeds and bicycles are even cheaper, and can even be charged at home. This means that though being initially more expensive, most electric vehicles tend to be cheaper over time. “I just plug it in overnight whilst I sleep”, said Hendro Sutono who owns both an electric moped and electric bicycle. He says he can get up to thirty kilometres per charge.

For many the go-to will be the moped. There are currently 25 million moped riders in Jakarta, nearly four-times more than car owners. Fortunately, the difference in cost between between electric and conventional mopeds is the most palatable of the current options, between two comparable scooters the electric option runs only around IDR 4 million more than the conventional option, but with significant savings on fuel. At the moment, many electric vehicles are underpowered when compared to their counterparts, though this shouldn’t be a problem amidst slow-moving Jakarta traffic.

An electric bicycle is powered by a small electric motor, but doesn’t sacrifice classic pedal power. Conversion kits are cheap online, and putting them together is a simpler process than putting together most furniture. Not only are they the cheapest offering, but riders don’t require registration or a license to ride them, making them a great (and cheap.) option for those travelling small distances. If you ever need to travel further however, both Grab and BlueBird are introducing electric options. Though currently limited to airport trips, they cost no more than a regular taxi, and Blue Bird has recently purchased an additional two-hundred vehicles for general use.

Which brings us to electric cars. Though realistically too expensive for most (An entry-level car costs approximately IDR 1 Billion.) the benefits are justifiable — if you have the cash. Electric cars are quieter, safer, more advanced, and more eco-friendly than their conventional counterparts. “This one is way smoother than the original car,” said Fergi, who drives electric vehicles for BlueBird, “it has automatic transmission and the customer likes the roomier interior and lack of noise, and there’s 0 pollution”.

That’s not to say Electric Cars are completely out of reach however. There’s an avid community that specialises in Electric Car conversions. These conversions generally run cheaper than a brand new car, and you are reusing an older vehicle, further decreasing your carbon footprint. Marius is a member of a classic car club in Jakarta, he and his friends have been keeping a close eye on electric cars. They’re worried about being left behind if Indonesia switches to electric entirely, so they’ve started converting their classic cars to electric. Marius recently converted a classic Peugeot, a bright purple affair that turns heads — if you can hear it coming. He assures me that it was as easy as swapping out the engine.

Electric Vehicles aren’t just a trend, they’re here to stay, for the good of the enviroment, and for the good of your commute. The variety and the accessibility of E.V.’s has never been broader, nor more accomodating. Embrace the trend early and get a taste of the future automotive industry, or bide your time. Electric will only get cheaper and more ubiquitous with age, as technology improves, accessibility increases and infrastructure is built.