MANILA, Philippines - The future's looking bright for the electric vehicle industry in the Philippines.
At least that's how the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (eVAP) sees it after the country's first E-Vehicle Summit held in November.
eVAP Chairman Ramon Agustines said having a central body to discuss issues about the e-vehicle industry would go a long way.
"Possibly the Department of Transportation (and Communications). There are laws coming out, though none yet have actually promoted e-vehicle use. (But) everybody was excited about the developments. It seems we're on our way to getting something done soon," Agustines told ANC's Future Perfect.
The eVAP is composed of 5 corporate firms and about a hundred individuals interested in promoting e-vehicles.
"We're hoping to work with different stakeholders. From the government to manufacturers to even the academe," Yvonne Castro, eVAP Executive Director, also told Future Perfect.
Castro revealed that the country's first e-jeepney was the initiative of a non-government organization that brought in the vehicles from China.
"The design was conceptualized here but it was produced in China. We talked with local manufacturers and partnered with them, hopefully to come up with a better product," Castro said.
She added that rather than tapping international car-makers, they would rather work with local players first.
Agustines also said that there's homegrown talent that can be tapped for e-vehicle designs.
Phil. Utility Vehicle Inc. President Ferdi Raquelsantos also boasted of their unique design, which uses lead acid batteries.
He explained that these deep cycle batteries can be fully drained of their charge.
Raquelsantos said the use of lithium-ion batteries - similar to those used in electronic devices like laptops and cellphones, but on a larger scale - would drive costs even higher.
A drawback though is that this means e-vehicles found in the country today are meant only for short commutes.
eVAP's aim is to come up with a vehicle that would cost below P500,000 once it's out in the market.
Raquelsantos said e-jeepneys currently go for P625,000, e-quads at P300,000 and e-tricycles at around P260,000.
But Raquelsantos said it would be wrong to compare these figures with the amount one has to pay for public utility vehicles that ply the streets.
"They're not comparable because the jeepneys you see are all surplus. These (e-vehicles) are all brand-new. Once we get the volume, the economy scale, obviously we can bring down the price. It's very effective for public transportation. Jeepney operators and drivers they earn more or almost twice as much, spending only P2.60 per kilometer, as opposed to a diesel engine which would cost you P5.05 every kilometer," Raquelsantos explained.