Chery Automobile said it had begun electric vehicle (EV) production in Indonesia, anticipating strong growth in demand for zero-emission vehicles in south east Asia’s largest economy.

The automaker, trading as Chery International, has spent US$16m this year to tool up for the new model at the Pondok Ungu plant in Bekasi, a city just east of Jakarta, which it operates with local assembler PT Handal Indonesia Motor.

The plant already produces Chery internal combustion engine (ICE) models including the Tiggo and Omoda 5. The company has a production target of 400 Omoda 5Es by the end of January with official launch scheduled in January and deliveries starting in February.

Chery International president Zhang Guibin said he was optimistic about the Indonesian market, adding the company had received positive feedback.

He said: “The locally assembled Omoda E5 EV will soon be launched in Indonesia. The model features the latest technology and well as our commitment to environmentally friendly innovations.”

Indonesian economic affairs minister Airlangga Hartarto said he hoped Chery would make Indonesia a production base for exports, particularly to other SE Asia countries.

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Chery was also expected to announce plans for a BEV plant in Thailand to increase overseas sales.

Last October, the company said it had developed a new platform, the E0X, which will underpin a large number of hybrid and battery electric vehicle (BEV) models across its Exeed, Jetour and iCAR nameplates in the next two years.