NO DOUBT about it, the electric vehicle (EV) is the vehicle of the future. And in the Philippines, the missing pieces of the puzzle are falling into place one by one.
Edmund Araga, president of the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (EVAP), reveals that the domestic EV industry is seeing the fruits of what EVAP has painstakingly labored on through the years. “We now have products from two to four wheels serving primarily the transport sector, charging stations are being put in place, government support through incentives are in the works, product standards and vehicle registration protocols are being laid out, and partnerships with major EV players in the ASEAN region are being forged.”
The optimism of EVAP is bolstered by a study conducted last year by the Edison Electric Institute revealing that global EV sales totaled about 2.1 million for 2018, an increase of 64% compared to the total sold in 2017. In 2018, EV sales increased by 79% in the US, 78% in China, and 34% in Europe compared to 2017.
In the US market alone, EV sales represented approximately 17% of global EV sales in 2018. More than 1.18 million EVs were on the road in the US as of March 31, 2019. Its market share grew to 1.8% in March 2019, up from 1.6% in March 2018.
“At the domestic front, local electric tricycle manufacturer BEMAC has produced 3,000 e-trikes under the Tricycle Replacement Program of the Department of Energy (DoE). These are now being deployed in various local government units nationwide,” says EVAP Chairman Rommel Juan. “In the four-wheel transport sector, electric jeepneys are now included in the PUV Modernization Program of the Department of Transportation. Some units are already operating in General Santos City. We are happy that EVs have gained public acceptance and have now achieved a foothold in the domestic mass transport industry.”
For private use, the EV industry is abuzz with news of the forthcoming launch of the electric version of the Mitsubishi Outlander SUV by April 2020 and the Nissan Leaf car later. The Chinese manufacturers will not be left behind with the introduction of their own EVs by BYD, Levdeo, Geely, and MG Motors.
EVAP Executive Director Dr. Manny Biona discloses that the industry players are moving fast to put the technical muscle and much-needed infrastructure to the EV industry. “A charging station program is now on the drawing boards of the DoE and MMPC has followed suit by establishing charging stations at select dealerships. Automotive battery manufacturer Motolite will soon locally produce and supply lithium ion batteries as a pioneering enterprise.”
Biona adds that product standards for EV parts and components have been approved by the Bureau of Philippine Standards of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) based on international standards. “As a matter of fact, BPS has created Sub-committee 21 under Technical Committee 44 for Road Transport to focus on standards for EVs. This shows the importance the government has given to the EV industry.”
Araga says that in terms of vehicle registration, the Land Transportation Office has drafted an Administrative Order on the recording, registration and operation of EVs. “Because of the rapid developments in the EV industry, it has made current prescribed specifications of light EVs and low-speed vehicles no longer applicable. LTO needs to cope with these advancements, thus the need to consolidate and update the current issuances and guidelines in recording, registration and, operation of EVs.”
There is also a bill in the Senate and other programs in the works that will give the EV industry a clear direction then give incentives to its implementation. Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has sponsored Senate Bill 174 that will provide the national energy policy and regulatory framework for the use of EVs and the establishment of EV charging stations.
Araga explains that this mandates seven government institutions plus the local government units to work together. “The bill proposes dedicated parking slots in public and private establishments and even in gasoline stations. It also grants fiscal incentives for local manufacturing, importation and utilization. Non-fiscal incentives will also be granted such as prioritization in vehicle registration and granting of franchises and exemption from the number-coding scheme.”
But the best part says Araga is that industrial and commercial companies, public transport operations, NGAs, GICCs, and LGUs must ensure that initially, at least five percent of their fleets shall be EVs with a timeline for the gradual increase of such percentage until the entire fleet is electrified.
Juan says that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has commissioned and funded a program on the promotion of low-carbon urban transport system in the Philippines. “It aims to create an enabling environment for the commercialization of low-carbon urban transport systems. This will be done through effective enforcement of policies, support for promotional activities, adoption and implementation of low carbon transport plans in major cities and increasing private sector participation and investments in the deployment process. Three major cities have been approved for this while four other major cities are being evaluated.”
Juan also adds that the entire automotive industry is eagerly awaiting the much-needed Executive Order to implement the eco-PUV program of the DTI that will give incentives to both vehicle platform suppliers and body builders for the local manufacturing of PUVs under the government’s PUV Modernization Program. “This will be a much-needed shot in the arm not only for the EV industry but for the entire automotive industry,” Juan says.
To keep pace with EV growth in the ASEAN region and share best practices, EVAP recently spearheaded the formation of the ASEAN Federation of Electric Vehicle Associations (AFEVA). Charter members are the EVAs of Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines. EVAP chairman emeritus Ferdi Raquelsantos says that this was the result of the almost annual hosting of EVAP of the Philippine EV Summit. This brings together under one roof all the major EV industry players not only in the Philippines but in the region as well. “We see AFEVA as our vehicle to a harmonious unification of best industry and manufacturing practices in the region, of research and development initiatives, of continuous improvements in both products and processes and of improving our network that has already resulted in some joint venture projects.”
EVAP is very optimistic about these recent developments. The domestic EV industry is fully charged and raring to go.
Established in 2009, the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (EVAP) espouses the idea of “a nation wherein the use of electric vehicles is highly promoted, encouraged and supported by its government and the society in order to develop a transportation landscape that is one with the environment ecologically and economically.” It, today, boasts more than 500 industry partners and 54 active member organizations. EVAP annually organizes the Electric Vehicle Summit.