Sensible option: E-vehicles for mass transport

The Philippine electric vehicle  industry is a unique case. As opposed to other countries where electric vehicles are fast becoming popular, it is not the flashy electric sports car models like the Tesla or the various hybrid models that large car manufacturers are offering that are slowly weaning motorists away from the gasoline-powered cars to the more eco-friendly alternatives.

The ubiquitous jeepney becomes eco-friendly.
Instead, in the Philippines, it is the unheralded public transport sector that is generating excitement with electric vehicles. “In a country where mass public transport is not yet that efficient and reliable, the Philippines is finally embracing electric vehicles and slowly but surely more forward thinkers are realizing their viability as an alternative transport solution for the country”, said Rommel Juan, president of the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines.

Sinnce the introduction of the Makati Green Route (MGR) by the Institute of Climate and Sustainable Cities and pioneer EV manufacturer PhUV Inc., there have been steady developments in many LGU and private enterprises on the use of electric jeepneys or eJeepneys. The Makati Green Route utilizes over 20 eJeepneys in the Legaspi and Salcedo Villages in Makati in ferrying office workers around the designated routes.

Juan explains that the eJeepneys used at the MGR are the first to ever receive the new orange LTO license plates for eJeepneys. “It is also the first mass transport operations to receive an LTFRB franchise. It truly was a real trailblazer. Now, seven years after the introduction of the first Ejeepney route, at last many other areas are following suit”.

“Meralco, the country’s largest power provider and a foremost EV promoter is using electric vehicles around its compound. Ateneo de Manila University, as well as De La Salle University in Cavite and the College of St. Benilde all have a fleet of eJeepneys going around their huge campuses. Recently, Filinvest City announced that it will operate eJeepneys inside its sprawling mall in Alabang. 

But it is not only eJeepneys but electric tricycles (eTrikes) too.

EVAP Executive Director  Bodie Pulido says that Kea Motors, a pioneer eTrike manufacturer, recently launched a fleet of eTrikes and the very first commercial charging station in Bacoor, Cavite. “There are also three Japanese companies now offering eTrikes locally -- Terra Motors, Prozza Hirose and Beet Philippines”.

“But what has excited the market even more is a new concept in mass transport operations, the lease to own business model. EV Wealth recently launched this scheme for eTrikes, promising to convert tricycle drivers to “eTrikepreneurs” at a cost of only P250 a day, which is basically just their daily boundary. This allows tricycle drivers the ability to hurdle the initial financial challenge in owning and operating an eTrike. Ultimately, the eTrike driver becomes the operator himself!, Pulido explains.

“Let’s face it. It seems that using electric vehicles for public transport has very little or no bad side at all. The issue of initial high cost has already been addressed by companies providing their own financing schemes to make it available and more affordable for users”, Pulido adds.

Juan explains that for businessmen who do not have an idea how to operate an EV transport system, there is EVEi, another EVAP member whose expertise is providing comprehensive electric vehicle public transport solutions, such as operating eJeepneys and eTrikes. “And for other electric vehicle technology concerns, EVAP has other members who offer various solutions such as Talino EV, Phil Etro , Tojo Motors and Eliea Green Transport”.

And what draws entrepreneurs to electric vehicles? Juan says that EV for public transport makes sense because:

 1. They are eco-friendly.

They will improve our communities’ already heavily-polluted urban roads because they do not exhaust any harmful fumes. And at least, you can have alternatives on clean sources of power such as solar or biomass. This is unlike oil which we import 100%.

2. They are cheaper to maintain.

Unlike regular vehicles which have a lot of moving parts and thus require much more maintenance and repairs, EVs do not require much maintenance and would cut maintenance cost by a quarter.

3. Electricity is cheaper than fossil fuel.

We computed that in operating EVs vis-a-vis regular fuel-fed vehicles, you can generate total cost savings of up to 40%. This means more income for the operator and driver.

4. It is quiet.

Commuters will not have to contend with noisy second-hand jeepney motors or the 2-stroke motorcycle engines of tricycles. So people who live beside tricycle routes would finally get a restful night’s sleep because electric vehicles are very quiet.

5. The EV industry will generate additional jobs.

The EVAP has projected that as much as 100,000 new jobs may be generated if the Philippines becomes the EV manufacturing hub in the region.

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