Philippines urged to try electric vehicles

Garrett Emmerson, TfL surface transport chief operating officer, said more electric vehicles on the road would mean lower carbon emissions.

Emmerson made the statement at the “Sustainable Transport in the Philippines: Strengthening Opportunities and Creating Partnerships for Electric Public Utility Vehicles” conference hosted by the British Embassy and the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC) at the Manila Polo Club.

Emmerson said there was a 40 percent decrease in London’s carbon emission level since 2008 when the city started fielding electric buses while encouraging motorists to drive electric vehicles.

According to Emmerson, there are now at least 2,500 electric cars and buses in London and some 25,000 hybrid (those that use a gasoline engine and an electric motor) vehicles.

“It is just a matter of incentivizing the technology and for the people to be ready to try it,” said Emmerson.

He said people can be encouraged by the government to swap their conventional gasoline or diesel powered cars to electric ones by offering incentives such as cheaper parking fees for electric vehicles.

“Our national government can have in place a number of incentives to subsidize the cost of purchasing new electric vehicles, which are more expensive than the equivalent petrol (gasoline) engine vehicles,” Emmerson said.

“It is about getting over the barrier to purchase, and also giving the people the confidence and the desire,” he added.

Emmerson added that London also installed the needed infrastructure to encourage motorists to drive electric vehicles, such as installing 1,300 public charging points (to charge their cars’ batteries) across the city.

Emmerson said a typical electric car could run for 10 miles or about 16 kilometers after just being charged for three hours.

Meanwhile, iCSC said an electric vehicle industry in the Philippines could also be feasible once more and more people start using electric powered vehicles.

"It will produce a ripple of jobs, social benefits and new revenue. The Philippines is ready for the electric vehicle industry revolution,” said May-i Fabros, iCSC spokesperson.

“We are promoting nothing less than a new investment agenda aimed at generating green jobs in services and manufacturing while producing margins that can secure more economic benefits for fleet operators, drivers and commuters alike,” added iCSC director Red Constantino.

Last February 27, Makati City re-launched 21 electric jeepneys (e-jeepneys) plying the Legaspi Village and Salcedo Village loops after the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) granted franchises for the units last February 8.

Makati City is the first city in the country to establish green routes for electric jeepneys. The first green route to ferry passengers for free was the Salcedo Village Loop located in the Central Business District. It was soon followed by the Legaspi Village Loop.

An e-jeep can accommodate 14 passengers excluding the driver. Prior to the granting of franchises, the e-jeepneys plying the Salcedo Village and the Legaspi Village routes ferried commuters for free.

According to the iCSC, the re-launch of Makati’s e-jeepneys shows the rest of the country that the shift to electric public transport is commercially viable to small operators and more beneficial and desirable for commuters.