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More than plugs: Unpacking Indonesia’s future of green mobility infrastructure

Written by AC Ventures Published on   6 mins read

Indonesia, being the most populous country in Southeast Asia, carries both a great responsibility and significant growth potential in the realm of green mobility.

The following op-ed was contributed by Kenneth Darmansjah. Darmansjah is the co-founder and CEO of Soul Parking, an AC Ventures-backed startup specializing in motorcycle parking and electric vehicle charging solutions. Its mission is to improve urban mobility using technology and sustainable offline infrastructure, and adopting a customer-centric approach.

Indonesia’s ambitious energy transition goals are set to transform the most populous country in Southeast Asia, as stakeholders from the public and private sectors recognize the environmental challenges the nation faces.

Currently, Indonesia’s transport sector is responsible for 15% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, where about half are contributed by road passenger transport, comprising primarily cars and motorcycles. There are currently more than 120 million motorcycles on the streets of Indonesia. This is largely due to rapid urbanization rates across the country, which will only increase as the nation continues to develop.

With this in mind, the decarbonization of this industry is a crucial factor in driving Indonesia toward the fulfillment of its 2060 net zero goal. A strong foundation to foster a transition to electric vehicles is already underway, as the government has begun to offer incentives for both consumers and businesses, as well as other forms of regulatory support, to push things forward.

For instance, the Indonesian government plans to allocate IDR 7 trillion (USD 459 million) to support the sale of 800,000 new electric motorcycles and the conversion of 200,000 combustion engine motorcycles by 2024, albeit with plenty of work still to be done in terms of conversion. On the business side, Indonesia has extended the deadline for automakers to qualify for EV incentives by another two years—this relaxed investment rule requires automakers to produce at least 40% of EV components in the country to enjoy a plate of tax incentives.

However, fleet electrification and EV manufacturing represent only parts of the green mobility value chain. Another equally important component is the infrastructure needed to sustain the use of EVs on the road. In relation, the ease of accessibility to a robust charging infrastructure network will play a critical role.

For now, there are 439 general charging stations and 961 battery swap stations available for EVs in Indonesia, though these figures are expected to increase as the EV changeover continues nationwide. To scale alongside EV adoption, PLN, the nation’s sole electricity provider, has already set a target to establish 6,316 general charging stations and 14,000 battery swap stations by 2025.

Image of Kenneth Darmansjah, co-founder and CEO of Soul Parking.
Image of Kenneth Darmansjah, co-founder and CEO of Soul Parking. Image courtesy of AC Ventures and Soul Parking.

Charging ahead of the EV curve

These targets set by government entities like PLN illustrate that the country is determined to forge ahead in accelerating EV adoption and growth.

At Soul Parking, we are focused on bringing innovation to the urban mobility sector. As we transition into a green mobility era, it’s only right that we play a role in accelerating the sector’s growth.

Last year, Indonesia’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources said that it aims to convert 150,000 fuel-run motorcycles into electric ones in 2024. By the end of the decade, Indonesia is aiming to have 13 million electric two-wheelers on the roads.

We see this as an opportunity for us to double down on our mission of alleviating street-side congestion but with an EV twist. A few months ago, we started incorporating EV charging stations and storage facilities for both electric two- and four-wheelers in the parking lots we serve.

The passenger vehicle market will continue to increase as Indonesia’s megacities like Jakarta keep growing, so the challenge of finding space for parking and charging infrastructure remains—it’s a natural play for us to turn to supplying charging stations at our parking facilities.

We also decided to go one step further by implementing fully automated solar-powered ticketing machines at parking lots. This is because we understand the importance and relevance of tapping into other forms of renewable energy. As we work with landowners, government bodies, and property developers, we are confident that these things can help create a ripple effect that will help alleviate not just traffic woes but also carbon emissions across the nation.

Driving into an electrified future

While EVs constitute a big part of Indonesia’s green mobility push, it’s not the be-all and end-all. Optimizing public transportation is also something the Indonesian government is working on to ease traffic congestion and carbon emissions.

To this end, Jakarta’s JakLingko, the city’s public transport expansion project, has almost tripled the number of daily public transport commuters from 350,000 to 1 million. This initiative provides mobility-as-a-service by integrating various public transportation services from the first to the last mile and several payment methods into a unified platform. Commuters can plan, pay for, and book transportation for their entire journey via JakLingko.

Additionally, PT MRT Jakarta (Perseroda), the company that runs Jakarta’s metro system, saw a lot more people using their trains in 2023. Around 33.5 million people rode the MRT that year, 14 million more than in 2022 when around 19.7 million people used it.

To get more people to use the mass rapid transit (MRT), the company is working with various groups, especially those in tourism like food businesses, event organizers, malls, and health and education players, and they are offering special ticket deals at tourist spots. They are also teaming up with other local transport services to make it easier for people to get to the MRT stations. Dukuh Atas Jakarta Transport Hub, Jakarta’s first area designed to make it easy to switch between different types of transport, has also been a big help. This hub, along with its parking managed by Soul Parking, makes it simpler for people to use car-sharing services. These extra transport options have not only increased the number of MRT riders by about 22% but also encouraged more people to share rides instead of using their cars.

As a result, this has helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26% and simultaneously reduced commuters’ monthly spending on public transport from 30% to 8%, said the city’s governor, adding that the next step is to procure electric buses for the city.

The success of JakLingko also highlights the need to have parallel initiatives. In this case, the development of a unified transportation payment management platform and the electrification of buses work in tandem to further drive home the message that green mobility is the future and that commuters have nothing to lose while the country undergoes a major energy transition.

According to a recent ADB report, low-carbon mobility and clean power bear the potential to contribute USD 90–100 billion in new revenue across Southeast Asia by 2030. Indonesia, as the largest country in the region,would naturally benefit, especially when the country’s current 0.2% EV penetration rate is similar to China’s ten years ago, pointing to massive growth potential as we drive ahead with our clean energy transition.

The urgency and potential of a successful energy transition in Indonesia is evident. Startups that can innovate within the clean energy sectors could make a lasting impact on Indonesia’s energy transition journey.

However, Indonesia cannot do this alone and startups are only part of the equation. Capital financing from institutional investors is an essential component of the country’s journey to net zero.

During the G20 summit in 2022, the government reinforced its commitment to its net zero ambition, highlighting that a transition to zero-emission vehicles is one of its main agenda points. But beyond EV manufacturing, multiple adjacent verticals such as battery swapping, battery recycling, and EV aftermarket servicing require significant investment and partnerships from investors to spur growth. This could be done by partnering with strong local founders and investors to gain a deep understanding of the nuances and challenges of the industry.

It will be a long road for Indonesia to achieve this paradigm shift, but the participation of institutional investors will certainly accelerate its progress. For global capital allocators who want to play a pivotal role in shaping the country’s green energy future, the time is now.


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