Friday, 8 January 2010

RP poised to be electric vehicle hub of Asia

MANILA (PNA) -- If its motor does not falter again, the Philippines could just be the electric vehicle hub of Asia starting this year.

Already, it has locally designed and assembled the electric jeepney or e-Jeepney that is now plying select streets in Makati and elsewhere.

Its local assembler, the Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (MVPMAP) has incorporated a consortium, the Philippine Utility Vehicle (PhUV) Inc. as its business arm for the e-Jeepneys.

MVPMAP Vice President Ferdi Raquelsantos said the e-Jeepney project has given hope and marginal sales of automotive parts to the more than 24,000 workers dependent on the local auto parts making industry.

“The industry has been in doldrums for so many years as the auto industry sales have not gone anywhere near the 1996 level of 162,000 units since then. Consequently, the Philippines has lagged behind Asian neighbors Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. It is only now that we see hope in a proposed Motor Vehicle Development Program (MVDP) that is being crafted by the Board of Investments,” Raquelsantos said.

Under the proposed MVDP, auto parts and components development is one of seven critical success factors cited as needing full government support for the development and growth of the auto industry.

It also provides a package of incentives to encourage local CKD operations.

PhUV Inc. Vice President Rommel Juan added though that another equally-important battle is being fought in the environmental front.

“The e-Jeepney project is expected to dramatically reduce noise and air pollution in Makati as the e-Jeepney does not emit either noise or harmful exhaust emissions. Studies have shown that every liter of diesel avoided results in a reduction of 3,140 grams of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) and 16 grams of NOx (Nitrous Oxide) that are released to the atmosphere. At excessive levels, these harmful exhaust emissions could result in climate change that has recently been blamed for the typhoons and floods that devastated not only the metropolis but most of the country. Our air pollution is probably one of the worst in the world,” he said.

“It is a good thing that some ‘green-minded entities’ have taken the initiative to take the first step in combating air pollution. Puerto Princesa, Makati City, Pasig City, Pangasinan and Ilocos Sur have all purchased e-Jeepneys. So have Congress, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Plantation Bay, De La Salle-Dasmarinas, Embarcadero and Hacienda San Benito. They now enjoy the benefits of clean air and fuel savings at the same time,” Juan said.

At this point, the PhUV has already identified the practical applications for electric vehicles in the country.

An EV is ideal for either short routes or confined areas of operations, such as resorts, huge campuses, malls, villages, industrial parks and the like, even as a public utility vehicle.

That is why so far, the biggest single use of a fleet of e-Jeepneys is the e-Jeepney Makati Green Route launched last Nov. 10, 2009 as the Libreng Sakay para sa Kalikasan project in Makati.

Under this program, 12 e-Jeepneys offer free rides daily in two routes, the Legaspi Village loop and the Salcedo Village loop.

Both routes will start and end at the Landmark Department Store area along Makati Avenue with a 10-second dwell time in each of the 13 specially-marked stops in each loop.

The e-Jeepney can comfortably seat 14 passengers (12 at the rear and two at the front, including the driver) and can be operated for about 65 kms. after every full charge at a maximum speed of 35 kph.

It is just part of a bigger program, the Climate Friendly Cities Program of the Institute of Climate and Sustainable Cities in partnership with PhilBio and PhUV Inc.

This CFC program has three major components: a biodigester fed with biodegradable household wastes to generate electricity, a piece of land that will serve as a terminal-cum-charging-station and the end-users of the electricity generated by alternative means, a fleet of e-Jeepneys. Makati City has invested in all these components.

Juan revealed while the more developed countries are racing to make electric and hybrid cars, he believes that "we can save a bigger carbon footprint if we promote the use of EVs for public transport application."

“In the process, we use electricity from alternative sources thus lessening our dependence on imported fossil fuel and somehow, helping our economy,” Juan said. (PNA)

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