MANILA, Philippines – As the recent monsoon rains proved, Metro Manila roads have a slim chance of being flood-free.
But that doesn’t mean vehicles have no chance against the floods.
John Echauz, an executive at a car insurance company, has developed Floody Carbag, a product that aims to keep parked vehicles safe from floods.
Echauz said the inspiration on the carbag came from the waterproof beach bag.
“You just drive your car in and then you close the zipper on top, then you close the mouth. There’s a Velcro strip on the mouth but that’s not what keeps the car waterproof. You fold the mouth 3 times, you roll it up, then you clasp it over the hood. The folds are actually what keep water from seeping in,” Echauz told ANC’s “Shop Talk.”
The Floody Carbag, made from high-grade industrial plastic, is a transparent, highly-engineered product that is both waterproof and puncture-resistant.
It comes in two sizes: one for sedan-type vehicles (P9,950) and another for medium-sized SUVs (P14,950).
“There’s a demand for larger versions, but we can customize that later on,” said Echauz.
Echauz, a graduate of industrial engineering from the De La Salle University (DLSU), said his experience with tropical storm “Ondoy” in 2009 led him to the development of the product.
Lessons from 'Ondoy'
As an executive vice president of a car insurance firm, Echauz said he witnessed how the floods triggered by tropical storm “Ondoy” caused problems for their clients.
“When Ondoy happened in 2009, we had a lot of flooded vehicles. It was very painful for our customers and painful for us also,” he said.
It was then that Echauz realized that the floods are not going to go away and that he has to do something to spare vehicles from the floods.
He said the Floody Carbag was released in July this year, just weeks before fierce “habagat” rains caused massive flooding in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
“We were very relaxed [when we launched it]. We were thinking, ‘When will the next Ondoy happen? We have time,’” he said.
The product was launched on Facebook during the height of the rains and within 24 hours, Echauz said the page was viewed 40,000 times all around the world and “liked” by 3,000 Facebook users.
He added that clients from Bangladesh and the US have placed orders for the Floody Carbag.
The final Floody Carbag product had to go through 50 prototypes before it was released, according to Echauz.
He said his team, composed of his driver-turned-technician and DLSU professors, tested the bag by parking a car in a large tank, filled the tank with water and left the car inside for two weeks.
The car worked fine after a test drive, shared Echauz.
Echauz said he is also planning to develop a smaller bag for home appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines.
But for now, he believes Floody Carbag owners who live in flood-risk areas will sleep better knowing their car will be flood-free.
“They live in places where they can’t escape. So what can you do? At least this gives you some sort of chance of saving your car,” he said.