Saturday, 3 April 2010

Mitsubishi makes ‘BEEP,’ jeepney alternative

Manila Bulletin

Filipino-owned bus body builder Almazora Motors Corporation (AMC) and Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. are tying up for the assembly of “BEEP” (Bus-jeep), a viable mass transport alternative to the popular public utility vehicle the jeepney that is going to compete with Isuzu Philippines Corporation’s similar “Microbus” version.

MMPC CEO and president Masahiko Ueki said that “BEEP” would be available for sale in June this year at an initial price of P1.8 million versus IPCs “Microbus,” which has a price range of P1.2 million to P1.5 million depending on its specification.

The BEEP body is locally designed and manufactured by Almazora Motors, while the chassis is supplied by MMPC using brand-new FUSO Canter light duty truck which complies fully with Philippine emission and safety regulations.

“MMPC aims to fulfill its role as an automotive industry mover in the Philippine economy and society through the introduction of this BEEP,” Ueki said.

The “BEEP” is a micro-sized bus which is suitable for crowded cities such as Metro Manila. It was designed for the primary purpose of modernizing Metro Manila’s public transport using an entirely new chassis, he said.

“The auto industry should not only care about selling brand-new vehicles but also take a lead role in improving the mass transport system. And 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,” Ueki added.

Though the price is double that of a brand new FX unit, Ueki said the BEEP would ensure double revenue potential since it has more seating capacity. Return of investment is expected to be faster because of higher revenue compared to jeepneys.

In addition, since the BEEP utilizes entirely new truck chassis, vehicle financing is also possible thru the banks. Banks normally do not allow financing for even brand new jeepneys since it is backyard assembled and utilizes surplus components. Inspired by European Gruau Microbus which exemplifies safety, convenience and modernism, the BEEP is designed for use as city passenger service.

It has a seating capacity of 26 passengers (seating for 18 including driver and standing for 8).

The BEEP responds as a feasible option to alleviate pollution and also the worsening traffic problem in Metro Manila with its appropriate size and compliance to emission standards.

The government recognizes that the jeepney is a problem that has defied solution. The Department of Transportation and Communication (DoTC) has reported that jeepneys contribute 50% of the pollution in Manila. Also the traffic flow in Metro Manila is worsened by oversized jeepneys with excessive turning radius that usually clog the U-turn slots.

Currently the jeepney population as reported by the DoTC is around 400,000 units, 70,000 of which are in Metro Manila. (BCM)

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