Filipino car maker banks on electric future of public transport

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By Alexander Villafania

PASIG CITY, METRO MANILA – The country’s dependency on fossil fuels to power millions of vehicles keeps growing with the continued purchase of cars and motorcycles. The need to travel is forcing people to try and live with the high cost of fuel.

Enter the electric vehicle powered by an electric motor and a battery. Depending on the type of engine it uses, an electric vehicle can carry from two to 12 people or a few hundred kilos of cargo on a single charge.

Because they do not use any fossil fuels, electric vehicles do not belch smoke and produce less noise. While these vehicles are still far from becoming mass produced for a bigger market, some private institutions and government offices have started to use them for short distance transports.

One of the few local companies that are producing electric vehicles is E-Save Transport Systems, Inc. Three years since they started, the company has already produced several types of electric vehicles, one of which is the “E-Taxicle,” already being used for short-range public transport in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. These have also been used in several other cities and government agencies.

Since its inception, the company has produced several models; an electric cargo truck, a golf cart, a police patrol car, a jeep, and an amphibious vehicle. They even have a public transport vehicle that looks like a small Hummer jeep.

E-Save Transport System Chairman Sean Gerard Villoria explained that the concept to make electric vehicles started after he and his wife watched “An Inconvenient Truth“ by Al Gore. He also worked with former Taguig mayor and now Congressman Freddie Tinga to start the electric vehicle project.

“Mayor Tinga wanted vehicles that produce little noise and no pollution, which he could use at the Bonifacio Global City. Now they have 178 E-Taxicles,” Villoria said.

He noted that the Filipinos have yet to fully participate in helping reduce the effects of climate change. He said having more electric vehicles in the Philippines will drastically reduce pollution in major cities.

While mass appreciation of electric vehicles will most likely take some time, Villoria said that they could start by using electric vehicles for public transport. With this use, a public transport operator would be able to have a different approach in getting revenues.

The electric vehicles for public transport would cost from P185,000 for the smallest model to about P300,000 for the biggest one. While these vehicles cost five to 10 times more than their gas or diesel powered counterparts, Villoria explained that they have devised ways of maximizing the purchase cost of the vehicles for long-term business.

Citing a study made at the Ateneo De Manila University, Villoria said public transport operators can increase their revenues from P500 a day to P800 a day. He cited their electric tricycle as an example. Of course, this is assuming that the operator takes good care of their vehicles.

He claimed that if an electric vehicle is well maintained, its return on investment would be realized within a year and a half. “Our next stage is sustainability and we work closely with the operator or owner of the vehicle so that they can maximize the use and operation of their vehicles,” Villoria said.

Villoria said it will be a long trudge to get Filipinos interested in electric vehicles though he expects more people to use them for public transport. Hopefully, more local government units would start looking at using electric vehicles, just as it is in Taguig City.

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