THE Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (EVAP) expressed optimism on Monday for the electric vehicle industry amid the government’s impending public utility vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program that includes the iconic jeepneys.
“The Department of Transportation [DOTr] is finally on the verge of implementing this historic program for public utility vehicles which aims to drastically improve the mass transport landscape and help reduce or eventually eliminate air pollution on Philippine roads. This is because not only will the 15-year-old jeepneys be upgraded but the power train will either have to be the environment-friendly Euro 4 engines or alternative-fuel types like electric and hybrid, LPG [liquefied petroleum gas], LNG [liquefied natural gas]and CNG [compressed natural gas]. With the Duterte administration’s political will, we think this will finally happen,” EVAP president Rommel Juan said.
The DOTr and its attached agencies with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) through its Board of Investments and the Bureau of Philippine Standards, the Department of Finance, the Department of Science and Technology with its Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and other government agencies are all working on this program.
This is expected to be launched on May 31 with an initial budget of P1 billion to be made available through Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank).
Juan said that the biggest stumbling block To modernization from the very beginning has always been retail or consumer financing.
“Now, they have come up with a financing program even for new air-conditioned jeepneys to the tune of P1.4 to P1.6 million each through LandBank. Non-airconditioned jeepneys could be had for from P1.1 milllion to P1.4 million each. This financing scheme will entail a very low downpayment and will be a boundary-hulog (boundary-installment payment) scheme of P800 a day for seven years at six percent interest.
“The best part is that after the seven-year loan period, the driver ends up owning the new jeepney. This would never have happened under the old boundary system with an operator,” he said
The LandBank estimates that with its initial P1-billion loan portfolio for this year, it can finance an estimated 650 to 700 units of new jeepneys to get the program off and running.
Juan said, “We are sure that there will finally be an opportunity for electric jeepneys to come in to serve the inner city with short distance routes, and we already have EVAP members who have the products that suit this need.”
For the Euro 4 jeepneys, EVAP is currently working with the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc., the Truck Manufacturers Association and the Automotive Body Manufacturers Association of the Philippines to formulate the standards for the modern jeepney in coordination with the DTI and the BPS. Member companies of the Philippine Parts Makers Association are also gearing up for a bigger demand for jeepney parts.
Juan reveals that EVAP and the entire automotive industry are passionate about growing local industries, specifically generating fresh investments, new jobs, and providing business opportunities for MSMEs that comprise the bulk of automotive parts and components suppliers.
“That is why we are pushing for local manufacturing and assembly of the new jeepneys by plants accredited with the Manufacturer, Assembler, Importer and Distributor Program of the Land Transportation Office. The jeepney is a Filipino icon so it should retain the characteristics and charm of the original jeepney across all the islands of the country. But of course with a modern touch, new driver attitude, automated fare collection system, wifi, gps, cctv, speed limiter and even air-conditioning to boot,” he added.