Electric vehicles (EV) could take up more than the initial forecast of 10 percent of the 200,000 jeepneys required by the government under its Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) modernization program, considering efforts from the public and private sector to boost the EV industry’s growth.
Under the PUV modernization program launched in 2017, the Department of Transportation (DoTr) aims to migrate the country to a more efficient and environmentally-friendly public transportation system by June of 2020.
The program is phasing out about 240,000 jeepneys, particularly PUV that have been around for 15 years or more, with the target of putting 170,000 modernized jeepneys on the road by the deadline. Of the figure, 10 percent is set to be electric jeepneys.
Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (EVAP) president Edmund Araga said the figure can definitely go up owing to multi-pronged efforts from the government and the private sector.
EVAP is aiming to sell 200,000 EV units in the next six years, or an eight to 12 percent annual growth, in the face of a global push for sustainable energy. In the Philippines, Araga said there are about 10,000 EV registered with the Land Transportation Office.
The figure is expected to rise as the EVAP coordinates with the LTO for the guidelines on the registration of e-trikes, e-bikes and e-scooters.
“We’re pushing for the 200,000. We’re looking at e-jeeps and the demand growth of e-trikes because it is being endorsed already by the government. We’re hoping that there would be a bigger growth in terms of registered e-vehicles already,” Araga said in a phone interview.
However, the supply of batteries remains the industry’s Achilles heel. EV manufacturers still import their batteries from China and Korea as EV battery manufacturing remains in uncharted territory in the Philippines.
According to EVAP, battery cost could easily take up half of the total price of an e-vehicle, something that hinders the manufacturers from lowering the price of EV to levels attractive enough for car owners to transition from internal combustion engine-powered cars.
EVAP is exploring tie-ups with the Philippine Nickel Industry Association (PNIA) to potentially establish a lithium-ion battery manufacturing for EV here, and is expected to finalize the memorandum of understanding by November. He said the sides are “willing to make an investment” as this could single-handedly lower the cost of EV.
Moreover, Araga said the Department of Trade and Industry’s Board of Investments has given its go signal for the formation of a roadmap for the PNIA.
To recall, the PNIA has sought a roadmap for the development of the local nickel mining industry, underscoring that changing strict policies on open pit mining could support the EV industry’s growth. Mining has several destructive environmental impacts, including erosion, biodiversity loss, the formation of sinkholes and water pollution.
While he did not give specifics, Araga said EVAP will be part of the technical working group for the roadmap.
The DTI is also coming up with a framework to provide fiscal and non-fiscal incentives for the manufacturing of EV and its components. Senator Win Gatchalian has also identified Senate Bill No. 174, or The Electric Vehicles and Charging Stations Act, as one of his 10 priority bills in the 18th Congress.
The bill aims to create a roadmap for the EV industry, as well as inculcate charging infrastructure development into the Power Development Plan under the Department of Energy.
“That could help boost demand — establishing a more detailed program that’s supported by the government. If it’s passed this year, the chances for growth will be bigger,” Araga said, referring to the measure.