• THE VOLT EVOLUTION

    Fast Times asks Edmund Araga about the state of the Philippine EV industry

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    e-bikes20160209Electric vehicles (EV) are steadily gaining a presence on our roads, ranging from personal transportation like e-bikes to public transportation like e-jeeps.

    Philippine Parts Makers Association vice president for technical Edmund Araga – whose company KEA Industrial Corporation produces E-Trikes – said many of these vehicles are products of Filipino engineering and ingenuity.

    “The e-vehicle industry is in its infancy stage, actually,” he said. “We are not more than 10 years old, but still we are doing something out of nothing.”

    In other countries, EV manufacturers receive government support through subsidies and tax credits for new EVs.

    Araga said there are already around 10 EV manufacturers in the country, mostly focusing on e-trikes or electric tricycles. He said this is because the market potential for two-wheeled and three-wheeled EVs is huge. According to data from the Land Transportation Office (LTO), motorcycles and tricycles account for more than three-fourths of the nearly 1.5 million newly-registered vehicles in the Philippines in 2014.

    Araga also said despite operating for a decade, the EV industry’s official production figures remain hazy since many owners and manufacturers don’t register their vehicles with the LTO.

    “In Boracay, they have more than 100 [EVs],” he said. “In my first year of commercial selling in 2014, I produced 45 E-Trike units. For the PHUV [Philippine Utility Vehicle Inc.] e-jeepney, they have already produced more than 100 that are being used in Makati, Alabang and some areas in Quezon City.”

    Although Araga said EVs are meant to promote both domestic productivity and environmental conservation, he doesn’t think EVs can completely replace fossil-fuelled vehicles in the near future. The Philippines signed late last year the United Nations COP21 agreement, which pledges to completely remove dependence on fossil fuels in the next 50 years.

    “We cannot totally remove fossil-fuelled vehicles because it has an effectiveness that is being proven already,” he said. “But we are looking into options on how we can lessen the effects of conventional vehicles to the world right now.”

    Araga also said the Philippines’s commitment to the UN accord is questionable, especially since clear standards to achieving the agreement’s goals have not yet been laid out.

    “Recently, the government approved the construction of coal power plant, which produces considerable smoke emissions,” he said. “How can they say they are committed to the deal and, yet, approve this, so there’s confusion. If and only if they are very concrete in terms of how they address it can they really meet the goals of the accord.”

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