By Manny N. De Los Reyes
WHAT’S A NEW YEAR without a new set of resolutions, fearless forecasts, or even a wish list?
Personally, I’m done with resolutions. And after doing forecasts and predictions for the last 20 years, I’m about ready to graduate from that as well.
Which leaves me with wish lists. The eternal child in me will never tire of that.
But I won’t bore you with a wish list composed of mega-expensive cars that I’d buy if Santa ever decides I’m worthy of winning the lotto (or an official McLaren dealership opening in Metro Manila). This should be a wish list that would be more relevant and, ideally, for the greater good of motoring mankind.
So, without further ado, here we go.
1. More choices for electrified vehicles
Props to Toyota for bringing in hybrid cars as far back as more than a decade ago — and to Lexus for following suit a few years after. That was a brave and pioneering move. Today, we have about a dozen brands that offer electrified mobility in one form or another — from mild hybrids to full hybrids, from plug-in electric vehicles to pure EVs. But it would be good for the consumer to have an even wider choice, because that would help result in my next wish.
2. Lower prices for hybrids and EVs
Yes, more choices would (or at least should) bring prices down. But it would be more easily achieved if electrified vehicles can be given some form of government subsidy, which happened in so many other markets all over the world. I’m not expecting a subsidy so massive that people will be trooping to a Porsche or Audi showroom to drive home a Taycan or e-tron (although that would be really sweet). But the small Nissan Leaf hatchback shouldn’t cost the same as Nissan’s own 370Z sports car (or almost a million more than the comparatively huge Terra SUV). And the price difference between the purely IC-engine Corolla Altis and Corolla Cross flagships and their respective hybrid variants shouldn’t have to be a sizable P300,000. It’ll be hard (and take very long) to offset the fuel savings from going electric. More people should be able to reap the benefits of fuel savings that a hybrid or pure EV offers.
3. More charging stations
The growing number of plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles will surely necessitate a commensurate growth in the number of charging stations. Props to the mall developers and the real estate companies who have already installed charging facilities in their properties. Again, the government needs to step up here, either by putting up charging stations or by offering incentives to private companies who put up charging facilities.
4. Better public transportation
Yes, we have been seeing progress on almost all fronts, from the EDSA bus carousel to the MRT-7, from the modern jeepneys to the ongoing construction of the subway system; but more still needs to be done. We still see long lines at MRT stations and on busway terminals. The MRT is still affected by glitches too often. Commuters are begging logistics services like Grab and Lalamove to “deliver” them to their destinations (especially at peak hours). We have no choice but to pay a king’s ransom for a Grab car or taxi. The masses shouldn’t have to resort to going into debt — and for an unfortunate many, repossessions — because they had to go for a car loan owing to the lack of decent public transportation. Ditto for commuters who are forced to buy and ride motorcycles to avoid the long lines waiting for the MRT or the bus. Bottom line: We need more and better public transportation, period. This is truly the ultimate solution to solving the perennial gridlock that has made moving around in Metro Manila a hellish experience.
5. Better driver/rider education
Judging from all the viral dashcam videos we see on various social media platforms, there is no shortage of “kamote” drivers and riders all over. Better driver and rider education is direly needed before we put more drivers and motorcyclists on the road. Remember: Driving is not a right, it’s a privilege. And clueless idiots who have no idea about road rules and regulations (or even basic road etiquette) shouldn’t be on the road in the first place. Then maybe we won’t have so many fatalities and injuries from the tens of thousands of vehicular accidents every year — not to mention the 30 to 40 accidents every day on EDSA alone (according to MMDA figures).