Joko Widodo is fine carpenter and wood stylist.
He is also the presidential leader of 260 million people who live in one of Southeast Asia’s most powerful nations – Indonesia.
On his recent trade mission to Australia, central in his mind to developing a partnership between the two countries was … lithium.
The world’s largest archipelago, Indonesia boasts vast reserves of crucial battery minerals like nickel, cobalt, and manganese. The only mineral it lacks is … lithium.
Australia, also rich in critical minerals, has the world’s largest stocks of lithium, extracting 43% of the global supply.
This combination offers a unique opportunity for battery manufacturers to establish a robust and sustainable supply chain, reducing reliance on imports and ensuring a consistent source of raw materials for the burgeoning EV market.
So, Joko wasn’t joking when he said he wanted to build 600,000 electric cars by 2030, so he needs the magic Aussie dirt.
Global demand for lithium has exploded in recent years. Due to its lightweight properties, lithium is a key component in producing rechargeable batteries used in electric vehicles (EVs), renewable energy storage, and consumer devices such as mobile phones, laptops, and cameras.
But could this mutual trade idea be short-circuited by China? A short circuit causes energy to flow in the wrong direction, bypassing the intended path. Think China.
Available figures show China accounted for 97% of Australia’s total lithium exports, buying about $1.13 billion. Do they want to share this market with Indonesia?
The People’s Republic is now the world’s largest electric vehicle market and producer, selling around 3.4 million passenger EVs, more than half of global sales.
So, let’s get back on track via one of China’s fasted and most popular EV brands, the Haval, manufactured by GWM, the Great Wall Motoring Co.
We took an each-way EV bet and tested the Haval Jolion Hybrid, aware that seven more Haval electrified models will be introduced in Australia this year.
Like the H6 before it, the new Jolion Hybrid is offered in only one well-specified grade for Australia. It packs more power than the equivalent Toyota hybrid, and at the $41,000 mark drive-away is priced to undercut the majority of the RAV4 range, and the entire Kia Niro line-up. That’s despite a $7000 price impost over the equivalent Jolion petrol model.
The Haval hybrid aligns roughly with the base Toyota RAV4 GX 2WD Hybrid ($36,900) which, although bigger than the Jolion, packs significantly less standard equipment. The incoming Corolla Cross GXL 2WD Hybrid ($39,250) is a similar size to the Jolion but is a mid-range model rather than a range-topper.
Jolion also undercuts the base Kia Niro HEV S ($44,380), which is a similar size and packs significantly less kit.
The hybrid’s 1.5-litre turbocharged engine paired with GWM electric motor produces up to 139 kW combined system power! And for an EV, thankfully, provides 390 litres of boot space.
Premium features such as 17-in. alloy wheels, multimedia touchscreen display unit and adaptive cruise control, also come along with the package, and it stands out from competitors with its Intelligent Hybrid Mode. This system uses the vehicle’s speed and load as references for blending electric power with gasoline energy so acceleration, deceleration and handling are all improved significantly while reducing emissions at the same time.
The hybrid’s interior boasts ergonomic seats designed for good-posture comfort. Each seat can be adjusted to a person’s height and features lumbar support and arm rests.
Returning to Joko Widodo. From poor beginnings, he applied himself at school and won admittance to Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta from which he graduated (1985) with a degree in forestry engineering.
For several years he worked for a state-owned pulp mill in the Aceh region of northern Sumatra, and he later established his own furniture factory in Surakarta. By 2002 he was a highly successful furniture exporter, with showrooms on several continents, as well as chairman of a local branch of the country’s influential furniture manufacturers’ association.
So … good luck Joko on the lithium deal.