Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Here comes jeepney’s replacement, the Beep

Roy Pelovello
Manila Standard

ABOUT half of the 400,000 jeepneys in the country may no longer be allowed to ply their routes next year following stricter registration standards, an official said yesterday.

Alberto Suansing, chairman of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, made the statement at the launching of the Beep, a combination bus and jeep, as an alternative to the jeepney, a modified version of the Jeep used by the US military during World War II.

The Beep was inspired by the European Gruau Microbus and is a project of Almazora Motors Corp. and Mitsubishi Motors Philippines.

“The [Land Transportation Office] has come up with new regulations on the inspection of motor vehicles, and we expect many public utility vehicles will not meet the requirements,” Suansing said.

“I would say almost 50 percent of the jeepney population will be affected.”

The LTO will require public utility vehicles—jeepneys in particular—to have speedometers, hand brakes, headlights and wipers, among other things, according to Joel Donato, head of the agency’s Motor Vehicle Inspection Service.

“We are implementing these requirements with the start of registration in January 2010,” he said.

Suansing said jeepney owners failing to comply with the new rules should start thinking of buying brand-new replacements—including the Beep.

A brand-new jeepney with a surplus engine costs around P450,000, and a new one with a new diesel engine is priced around P600,000.

By comparison, a Beep costs around P1.6 million. The Beep’s body is designed and manufactured by Almazora Motors, while the chassis with its brand-new FUSO Canter light-duty truck engine is supplied by Mitsubishi Motors Philippines. Mitsubishi says the engine complies fully with Philippine emission and safety regulations.

The Beep can carry 26 passengers, with seating for 18 including the driver and standing for eight.

“The first consideration here is safety. Some of [the jeepneys] are accidents waiting to happen, and then you have environmental concerns,” Suansing said, adding the LTO’s new requirements dovetailed with his agency’s goal of reducing the number of jeepneys on the streets and replacing them with the Beeps.

Almazora’s vice president for vehicle sales, Dante Santos, said the Beep could be the answer to Metro Manila’s worsening traffic and pollution problems.

He cited a government report saying jeepneys contribute 50 percent of the pollution in the area, and that the traffic flow there is choked “by oversized jeepneys with an excessive turning radius that usually clog the U-turn slots.”

Around 70,000 of the estimated 400,000 jeepneys in the country ply routes in Metro Manila.


Mitsubishi Philippines, partner launch bus-jeepney crossbreed

Patrick Everett Tadeo

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines (MMPC) and partner Almazora Motors introduced a fresh alternative to jeepney and buses: the BEEP.

The BEEP, inspired by Europe's Gruau Microbus, is a micro bus that is suitable for Metro Manila's crowded streets--making it an ideal replacement for jeepneys and Asian utility vehicle (AUV).

"The auto industry should not only care about selling brand new vehicles but also take a lead role in improving the mass transport system," Mitsubishi Philippnies president and chief executive Masahiko Ueki said. "Since no assembler has really pursued to modernize the public transportation, MMPC as a socially responsible automotive company have collaborated with Almazora to come up with a better solution for mass transportation."

Using a FUSO Canter light duty truck chassis from Mitsubishi Philippines, Almazora Motors designed and manufactured a bus body that can accommodate 18 passengers on bench-type seats and up to eight standing commuters.

The BEEP's Mitsubishi engine complies with Euro emission standards, making it more environment-friendly than surplus Japanese engines used in today's jeepneys. Its high-roof, low-floor, and large wraparound windows make the interior roomier while reducing the driver's blind spots.

The BEEP is also fully-configurable depending on the needs of the client. Almazora executive vice president Conrad Almazora said his company can manufacture as much as 50 standard-configuration BEEPs a month, with a turnaround time of one month from order placement.

The bus-jeepney hybrid of Mitsubishi Philippines and Almazora is priced at P1.6 million, almost twice the price of an AUV. Its revenue potential, however, is more than double due to the larger seating capacity. Acquisition is also easier through bank financing.

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