By Victor V. Saulon, Sub-Editor
ELECTRIC vehicle solutions provider eSakay, Inc. is looking to expand its fleet, depending on the public’s reception to its initial 15 “eJeeps” plying the MRT Buendia Station-Mandaluyong City Hall route for about a month now.
“We decided to go for one (franchise, for now). If it fits well, and see how this operates, we understand this better, then we’d be more aggressive down the road,” said Alfredo S. Panlilio, eSakay chairman and also senior vice-president of distribution utility Manila Electric Co. (Meralco).
eSakay, a wholly owned subsidiary of Meralco, formally launched the service on Friday at Circuit Makati. It has invested close to P2 million per vehicle.
Mr. Panlilio said the design of the eJeeps is from Israel, although the vehicles were manufactured and imported from China.
The eJeeps are fully electric, emission-free, and compliant with the government’s public utility vehicle innovations for convenience and safety. The vehicles are equipped with side entrances, onboard wifi and USB ports.
Although the fare for eJeeps rides is paid in cash, it will eventually be under an automated fare collection system. The vehicles also have a GSP tracking system and CCTV cameras. The service will also designate priority seating for senior citizens and persons with disabilities.
Mr. Panlilio said Meralco has long been an advocate for the wider use of electric vehicles in the country with the EV shuttling service and electric bike sharing program at the Meralco Center in Ortigas.
“It soon became clear to us that electric vehicles were indeed a viable transport solution. That’s when we partnered with private companies, government institutions and now, public transport operators who expressed keen interest in utilizing EVs for their transport needs,” he said.
Raymond B. Ravelo, eSakay president and chief executive officer, said that beyond supporting transport operators by supplying electric public utility vehicles and building charging stations, the company realized that it could create a greater impact “by being one with them.”
“From this was born our project to operate an electric jeepney route connecting Mandaluyong to the Makati [central business district],” he said.
Company officials said their thrust is to encourage and enable existing jeepney operators to modernize their fleet as well as ensure that drivers have stable livelihood.