A Minicab-MiEV with the Gojek livery. Photo from PT Mitsubishi Motors Krama Yudha Indonesia.

Indonesia to Assemble Minicab-MiEV for Local Use by 2024

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Indonesia to assemble Minicab-MiEV for local use by 2024. Testing is being done with four big enterprises.

Last February, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) announced that Indonesia would definitely host the assembly of its first mini EV, a one-box “Kei” truck to be called the Minicab-MiEV in Indonesia. This was confirmed by Takao Kato, president and CEO of Mitsubishi Motors during the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the carmaker in the Philippines last month.

“We believe that kei-car class commercial EVs are the optimal solution to the last one-mile problem in logistics. In order to meet the growing demand for EVs in the ASEAN region, we have made the decision to produce this vehicle locally outside of Japan for the first time,” Kato told CleanTechnica. “Carmakers are responding to the rapid, global movement toward a decarbonized society, and we are on the same path with our PHEV and full EV vehicles.”

CleanTechnica sources at the PT Mitsubishi Motors Krama Yudha Indonesia (MMKI) said the vehicle prototyping has begun and the first locally assembled vehicles will be released by early or mid 2024. The company also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with four companies in Indonesia to conduct a pilot study on commercial usage of a kei car. This includes Indonesia’s most popular delivery and ride-hailing service, Gojek, and largest freight and handling service, DHL.

“We highly appreciate our leading company partners, PT Pos Indonesia, PT Haleyora Power, Gojek and DHL Supply Chain Indonesia, as well as the Government of Indonesia who enthusiastically supported this joint study. Through this study, we hope to explore broader use of Mitsubishi Motors’ electric commercial vehicles in Indonesia,” Naoya Nakamura, President and Director of PT MMKSI, said in a statement.

For six months, PT Pos Indonesia, PT Haleyora Power, Gojek, and DHL Supply Chain Indonesia will use vehicles provided by MMKI for research and utilization in their logistics and administrative operations in the Jabodetabek area. This study aims to understand and explore commercial EV applications, by verifying actual usage data, including mileage, charge history, and delivery routes.

Last March 14, four more Indonesian companies joined the Minicab-MiEV testing. (Photo from PT Mitsubishi Motors Krama Yudha Indonesia)

Last year, the Minicab-MiEV was released in Thailand as part of a testing campaign with Hitachi Transport System (HTS), local subsidiary of the electronics giant in Japan. HTS Group will be studying the use of the mini-truck in its last-mile delivery routes in Thailand’s narrow and busy streets as well as farther distances outside the city.

“This study will allow us to understand and obtain more information on the potential introduction of EVs into our operations. It is in line with our aim to become a responsible corporate citizen at the forefront of industrial and environmental sustainability,” Ryuichi Honda, Hitachi Transport System Group CEO, said, adding that the study aims to collect and analyze data — particularly those related to mileage versus congestion condition and vehicle routes, payload to distance ratio, charging history, as well as the overall contribution it will make to the company’s carbon footprint reduction.

The Minicab-MiEV isn’t new. It was first launched only in Japan in 2011, with limited success. Since then it has sold nearly 9,000 units and is the only Kei-car class commercial EV produced by a Japanese automaker. In 2019, Japan’s postal service announced that it will order 1,500 of the vehicles for is fleet and by March 2021 these were already put into service.

At that exact same time, the production of the EV mini truck ceased temporarily due to what Mitsubishi called an “exceptional event.” In the global market the vehicle faces stiff competition from the Chinese manufacturers who are way ahead in the development and sales of small electric trucks.

The Minicab-MiEV can run approximately 133 km (83 miles) on a single charge. In Japan, it has been mainly for use in the short-run delivery industry, perfect for its narrow streets. It uses the same platform as the i-MiEV, claimed to be the first mass produced EV platform. By building the Kei-minivan body over the flat skateboard platform, there is not only a large cargo space, but the battery placement also gives it a lower center of gravity for better stability with payload, sharper steering, and ride comfort.

Mitsubishi believes that commercial EVs in the Kei-car class are the optimal solution to the “last one-mile problem” in logistics.

During the 2023 Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show (GIIAS), Indonesian President Jokowi Widodo took the wheel of a Minicab-MiEV, drove it around the Tangerang Regency exhibition grounds, then declared that his government should focus more on electric and hybrid cars.

Indonesia President Jokowi Widodo’s Tweet (screencapture from @jokowi Twitter page)

In May of last year, Widodo visited Washington with other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). He made a side trip to Texas where he visited Elon Musk, and was given a special tour of the SpaceX facilities by the billionaire founder of Tesla.

Musk said he was “very interested” in doing business with Indonesia.

In a report that appeared in CNBC, Jokowi was said to have offered Musk opportunities in his country for EV battery manufacturing and hoped that Indonesia become a hub of Tesla’s electric vehicle assembly in the region. If this is the direction Tesla chooses, it will open up the market of 2.8 million vehicles sold and 1.1 million assembled annually in the ASEAN 6 region (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore). The regions lags in vehicle electrification, but hopes are high that it can catch up.

Earlier this year, the Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance announced plans to introduced 35 new electric vehicle models by 2030. These will share common platforms and will be distributed globally. Although, region-specific EVs are also planned. The Alliance will invest €23 billion into the project.

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Raymond Tribdino

Raymond Gregory Tribdino is the motoring & information technology editor of Malaya Business Insight (www.malaya.com.ph) in the Philippines. He has been covering automotive, transport, and IT since 1992. His passion for electric vehicles started with the failed electrification of a scooter in 1994. He wrote for EVWorld.com, one of the pioneer electric vehicle websites, in 1997. He was a college professor for 8 years at the Philippine Women’s University. He is also now a podcaster co-hosting for the Philippines' top-rated YouTube tech site “TechSabado” and the baby-boomer popular “Today is Tuesday.” He is a husband and father of five, a weekend mechanic and considers himself a handyman, an amateur ecologist, and environmentalist. He is back to trying to electrify motorcycles starting with a plug-in trail motorcycle.

Raymond Tribdino has 108 posts and counting. See all posts by Raymond Tribdino