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Indonesia’s self-developed and built national car is planned to be an electric vehicle (EV), research, technology and high educational institute minister Muhammad Nasir has said, Antara reports.

“Yes only electric cars, not ones fuelled with oil or other fuels,” he said, citing the eco-friendliness of EVs, the republic’s dwindling oil reserves, as well as Japanese and South Korean competition.

According to the Indonesian news agency, the national car project is currently being trialled and evaluated by the Technology Application and Study Agency, the Indonesian University and the Bandung Institute of Technology. The testing is expected to be completed by year-end.

However, Muhammad Nasir declined to comment on the supposed Indonesia-Malaysia collaboration in the development of the republic’s national car.

Antara quoted Parliament deputy chairman Fadli Zon as saying that a national car project does not necessarily have to be a government project, and that the cooperation with Proton is a private-sector project rather than one involving the two governments.

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On February 6, during Indonesian president Joko Widodo (Jokowi)’s three-day Malaysian visit, Proton signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with PT Adiperkasa Citra Lestari to explore the possibilities in developing and manufacturing an Indonesian national car.

Under the MoU, both companies are to conduct feasibility studies in areas including commercial, localisation, engineering and design, logistics and the potential development and manufacturing of the project in Indonesia. If successful, Proton and PT Adiperkasa Citra Lestari will sign a definitive joint-venture agreement.

The deal was met with some criticism in Indonesia, leading to Jokowi clarifying that the cooperation agreement was not intended for the development of a national car. Jokowi was reported to have championed the Esemka marque when he was Solo mayor – Esemka is a collaboration between several vocational schools in Solo, Central Java to design and build vehicles.

However, during his time in Malaysia, Proton chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad took Jokowi for a spin in the yet-to-be-launched Proton Iriz EV, which has been developed with South Korea’s LG Electronics. Could this be the EV they’re talking about, or is the Indonesian car set to share some of its technology?