Friday, August 2, 2013

A Future for Electric Vehicles Gets a Bit Closer in the Philippines

Which came first — the electric vehicle or the charging station?
An e-trike heads through the streets of Mandaluyong City. The ADB is supporting a project to have 100,000 e-trikes running on Philippine streets by 2017, thanks to a $300 million loan.
Well, in the Philippines, up to now, it’s been a slow roll out of electric tricycles and battery-powered jeepneys, the gaudily-decorated popular public transport vehicle in the Philippines that are running through some sections of the financial district of Makati. There are very few electric cars in private hands in the Southeast Asian country. All have been getting juice from electrical outlets in their own homes.
Now the nation’s largest power distributor –Manila Electric – is ramping up the commitment to a future of electric vehicles. This week, it unveiled the proto-type of the first-ever power charging station in the country, which it hopes will be up and running before the year ends. It is also looking into playing a role in building larger electric vehicles.
Anthony Agoncillo, the customer solutions manager at Meralco, said specifics of the eVehicle Power Station that will be built in Mandaluyong and other places are still being tweaked and will depend on the results of the pilot testing being done at Meralco’s headquarters. A charging station costs around $23,000 to build.
“Unfortunately, there are many different types of EVs and sub-brands within the EV type such that one figure will not hold true for all,” said Mr. Agoncillo, drawing parallels to cars with similar engine displacement but that have differences in efficiencies because they are built by different companies .
The Tesla S is charged at the proto-type of the first-ever power charging station in the Philippines.
“Our job goes beyond the traditional task of providing power. The Philippines has got to develop its own niche. We in Meralco will help propagate local manufacture of electric vehicles,” said Meralco Chairman Manuel Pangilinan during the launch of the charging station proto-type on Tuesday night.
The charging station will be located in Mandaluyong, a city just a few kilometers from the power distributor’s headquarters and where the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has started to roll out 100,000 tricycles by 2016 that run on electricity instead of gasoline. Some battery-powered jeepneys—the gaudily-decorated popular public transport vehicle in the Philippines–already run on through some sections of the financial district of Makati.
ADB, the Manila-based regional development bank, introduced the e-trike program to reduce air pollution and help reduce the need for gas imports. The bank estimates that 3.5 million conventional combustion engine tricycles and motorcycles operate in the country, contributing millions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year.
A number of companies already produce electric tricycles locally, but Meralco, as the power distributor is more popularly known, thinks it may be time to scale up and it is ready to assist in achieving the goal of building larger electricity-fueled vehicles.
“We are prepared to invest and set up financing. We don’t want to import these vehicles,” said Mr. Pangilinan, who paid a total $207,000 to import an electric car from Tesla Motors.