Jeepneys defend 'king of the road' crown with shift to electric

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 29 2017 08:55 PM

An e-jeep by Philippine Hybrid Utilitiy Vehicle (PHUV) Inc. goes on a road test. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Drivers and operators have the option to buy brand new electric jeepneys or swap their diesel engines for rechargeable ones to comply with government's efforts to cut pollution.

Upgrading the engine is cheaper by P500,000 compared to buying a brand new vehicle which could cost up to P1.7 million, said Mariano Nocom, president of electric engine manufacturer Le Guider.

Swapping engines could extend the lifespan of the Philippines' "King of the road" for up to 20 years, Nocom told ABS-CBN News on Thursday.

Older jeepneys are also made of sturdier metal, compared to their newer counterparts, he said.

The government is seeking a phaseout of jeepneys over 15 years old to reduce carbon emissions, signaling a new era for the country's public transport workhorse.

Electronic vehicle manufacturers, however, said savings from just upgrading the engine could be more costly in the long run.

"If we change just the engine or the motor tapos luma pa din yung ibang parts, sunod-sunod pa rin masisira yan," Rommel Juan, president of the E-Vehicles Association of the Philippines, told ABS-CBN News.

(If we change just the engine or the motor and the other parts remain the same, soon enough it will break down one by one.)

Juan proposed an incentive package including tax cuts, free parking, free charging and exemption from the number coding scheme for operators who will immediately shift to battery power.

The Department of Trade and Industry said it was still studying proposals related to the government's modernization program.

A showcase for jeepney prototypes will be held in September to allow stakeholders to decide which modifications will best fit the Philippine's iconic people carrier.