President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo finally inaugurated the Esemka car factory in Boyolali, Central Java, Friday (9/6). After the inauguration, however, Esemka received lots of criticism. Many accuse the factory of not producing, but only importing Chinese cars and replacing the logo with the Esemka brand.
The factory owned by PT Solo Manufaktur Kreasi was built on an area of 115 thousand square meters, and cost Rp 600 billion. For the initial stage, the factory produced the first Esemka Bima car, a pickup type commercial vehicle. The price is lower than other brands that have been sold in Indonesia, which is under Rp 100 million.
During the inauguration, Jokowi tested this car. The problem is that the Esemka's first car was very similar to Changan, the Chinese car product. Therefore, many consider Esemka to be a foreign product and not a national car (Mobnas), one of which is DPR Deputy Speaker Fahri Hamzah.
“There is probably a secret agreement so that Esemka brand can be handed over to the private company, which produces cars similar to those made by foreign. But then they said that our children built it,” Fahri wrote on his Twitter account (9/6).
Solo Manufaktur Kreasi President Director Eddy Wirajaya was even reluctant to call Esemka as the national car. “More precisely, it’s a car made in Indonesia by the children of our nation,” he said during the inauguration of the Esemka factory.
Because of the physical similarity and specifications between Bima and Changan Star Truck, many people believed that Esemka only replaced the Chinese car logo with their logo. A day after the factory's inauguration, social media was flooded with this accusation. Hashtag #ChanganJiplakEsemka, which was intended to satirize Esemka as a vehicle that copied Changan, became a trending topic on Twitter on Saturday (9/7).
Similarities to Chinese cars are not just for Bima. In early 2018, the Garuda 1 prototype caused a stir. This Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) type car has similarities with Chinese cars, Foday Landfort. The two products have a lot in common on the exterior.
Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto said the similarity was natural as the two factories did have a partnership. "Yes, for sure. Their manufacturers had cooperation. In the past, Proton [Malaysia] had collaborated with Suzuki Indonesia, so it imported the completely knocked down [CKD] from Indonesia,” he said, Tuesday (9/10). Vietnam-made car, VinFast, also has a car platform similar to BMW because Vietnam collaborated with the German manufacturer.
Although there is cooperation with Chinese car manufacturers, the Industry Ministry ensures Esemka cars are not imported in full condition (Completely Built-Up/CBU) from the country. The Director of Maritime Industry, Transportation Equipment, and Defense Equipment, Putu Juli Ardika, said the Esemka assembly factory is neither for CKD nor IKD (incompletely knocked down).
“CKD is a whole car that was disassembled, brought here, and assembled. It’s not IKD either, because there is a higher local content obligation,” he said in Jakarta, Wednesday (9/11). According to him, the Esemka plant is a part by part assembly facility. It means the components needed for the car assembly are imported from various companies, both domestic and foreign.
A few weeks before Jokowi inaugurated the Esemka factory, PT Solo Manufaktur Kreasi announced a list of 26 local companies that became the suppliers of Esemka Bima car components. These companies supply 60 percent of components for Esemka cars.
26 Suppliers of Esemka Bima Local Components