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Local maker kicks off Indonesia's electric scooter market

Triangle Motorindo looks to steal a march on rivals with first street-legal two-wheeler

Triangle Motorindo's Q1 electric scooter can travel 70km on a single charge.

JAKARTA -- Triangle Motorindo, an Indonesian motorbike manufacturer, has introduced the country's first street-legal electric scooter to the domestic market.

The company developed the scooter with German autoparts maker Robert Bosch and an Indonesian university.

Demand for electric bikes is likely to grow in the coming years due to concerns about the environment. The Indonesian government is considering tightening environmental standards for motorbikes and cars in response to worsening air pollution in big cities such as Jakarta, the capital.

Bosch supplies the motor and other key components for the scooter, the Viar Q1. It can travel up to 70km on a single charge at a maximum speed of 60kph.

When plugged into a household electrical outlet, the scooter can be fully charged in five to seven hours. The electric motor is quiet and produces no tailpipe emissions. The bike is designed to handle puddles, an important capability in flood-prone Indonesia.

The Viar Q1 is priced around 16 million rupiah ($1,200), close to the price tags of the top-selling models of Honda Motor and Yamaha Motor, the two Japanese motorcycle makers that dominate the Indonesian market.

Home grown

Triangle Motorindo, founded in 2000, sells its Viar brand of motorbikes through a sales network that mainly covers smaller cities. Its three-wheelers come with a large cargo rack, a feature popular with owners of small shops in Indonesia.

The company has a large factory in Semarang, the capital of Central Java Province, but it has struggled to make a dent in the Japanese manufacturers' market share of over 90%. Because Triangle's sales network is weak in larger cities such as Jakarta, sales of the Q1 remain tiny -- several dozen per month, according to the company.

But it aims to beef up its marketing by making a major online shopping mall an exclusive dealer, and by creating more electric scooter models through a partnership with Bosch and other companies. It is considering developing a two-wheeler that operates in sync with smartphones.

Several of Triangle's competitors have announced plans to roll out electric scooters in Indonesia, but most have not been certified to operate on public roads. The Q1's official stamp of approval means owners can get the license plates they need to ride anywhere.

This has given the Q1 a boost. The government is weighing various measures to encourage people to choose greener cars and motorbikes, including tax breaks for eco-friendly vehicles. Triangle is hoping this will help it take on Japanese motorbike makers.

Some 6 million motorcycles are sold annually in Indonesia, making it one of the biggest markets in the world. But growth has slowed in the past several years due to a weaker economy and the arrival of cheaper cars, priced around $7,000.

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