• DOE urged to reconsider ETrike program cancellation

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    The Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (EVAP) on Tuesday asked the Department of Energy (DOE) to reconsider its plan to discontinue the Electric Tricycle (ETrike) Program and terminate the Asian Development Bank (ADB) loan that would fund it.

    The ETrike Program, which was to be bankrolled with a $500 million ADB loan is aimed at replacing 100,000 gasoline-fed tricycle units with energy efficient electric vehicles.

    In an interview last Friday, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said that the DOE has already decided to scrap the ETrike Program because of the lack of interested buyers and high manufacturing costs.

    Cusi said that the DOE is now studying how to manage the rollout of 3,000 E-trikes being produced under the contract the previous administration awarded to Uzushio Electric Co. Ltd. of Japan and local partner Bemac Electric Transportation Philippines.

    “Based on the contract, DOE can also cancel the delivery of the E-trike bid out. However, the contractor has 28 days within which to deliver whatever they have produced and DOE will be obliged to pay whatever is delivered,” energy chief said.

    Cusi, said around 1,600 units have already been manufactured but the department now wants to stop production of the remaining units.

    “We sent a letter to stop production. The meeting with the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) is ongoing and I am also waiting for an update,” he added.

    However, EVAP, the official organization of some 50 institutions in the domestic EV industry said the ETrike Program need not be discontinued.

    “EVAP wishes to make suggestions to the DOE in the hope of making the program more successful. We believe that the $500 million ADB fund may still be used in other EV-related projects not necessarily requiring a formal bidding,” Rommel Juan, EVAP president, said in a statement.

    “We do not wish for this fund to be wasted and simply be returned to ADB. There are plenty of opportunities in the country for EVs, may it be three-wheeled ETrikes or even four-wheeled EJeepneys. This much-needed fund could help jump-start and catalyze our domestic EV industry which is just starting to take off,” he added.

    Juan said if the program is continued for other electric vehicle projects as a Green Financing Program, it could be administered by other government agencies such as the Department of Transportation or the Department of Interior and Local Government using government financial institutions as loan conduits thus providing operating funds and financing for manufacturers and retail financing for customers.

    “This will not only help preserve our environment but generate new job opportunities, bring in foreign investors, reduce our dependence on fossil fuel importations thus saving us precious dollars and generate additional taxes for the government as well. We have a sunrise industry in our hands. It needs the caring and nurturing arms of government. We hope it listens to our plight,” Juan said.

    “We have been in full support of the DOE ETrike Program ever since the start when the ADB was just in the process of securing funding for it. We were full of optimism since in the absence of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives through an Alternative Fuel Vehicles Incentive Law, we saw it as the much-needed shot in the arm that our sunrise industry needed,” he added.

    “We came to its rescue with a Letter of Support when the funding that ADB was raising for it came into question. When the funding issue was resolved and the program was finally launched, EVAP members joined the bidding and we have been in consultation with DOE ever since,” Juan said.

    “During the first bidding and the second bidding, EVAP was also there. We were very glad when EVAP member Bemac finally won the initial bid for 3,000 units,” he said.

    The DOE ETrike Program put the Philippines in the EV map, as international manufacturers and suppliers finally took us seriously, Juan said. “They came in droves in the various Philippine EV Summits that we conducted, with some of them even forging partnerships and joint ventures with our members. It was thus starting to attract various foreign investments into the country, with some of them already in place, the EVAP statement said.

    There are so many proofs that electric vehicles actually work in the Philippine scenario. There are EJeepneys running in Makati, Muntinlupa, Filinvest City and Ateneo de Manila. There are successful ETrike deployments in the cities of Mandaluyong, Bacoor , Naga and Boracay.

    “All of these simply prove that Electric Vehicles already work, can be mass-produced locally by Filipino engineers and technicians and now already available in commercial volumes,” Juan said.

    “We at EVAP have worked very hard for this ETrike Program for so many years and we sincerely wish that the program will be continued, even with an adjusted Terms of Reference to make it more acceptable to the target beneficiaries,” he added.

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