Electric dreams power need to move

MORE and more vehicles are getting back on the road again as mobility restrictions ease down on the metropolis and other major cities in the country.

However, as more vehicles plow the road, expect smoke emissions to rise to dangerous levels again, which can wreak havoc on the health, respiratory in particular, of commuters who are also slowly going back to commuting again to go to work.

Araga: “It’s just a matter of implementation in order to actually feel the changes in the entire auto industry as it shifts into electric vehicle mode.”

The Philippines’s 2021 air quality average in terms of PM2.5 concentration—an air pollutant composed of tiny particles in the air that reduce visibility and cause the air to appear hazy when levels are elevated—was 3.1 times above the World Health Organization (WHO) annual air quality. This placed the country at 64th out of 118 countries in the 2021 AQI Country Ranking through IQAir, the world’s largest free real-time air quality information platform.

The country continues to look for healthier alternatives when it comes to the transportation sector and is now turning an eye on electric vehicles (EVs) for significantly lesser to zero smoke emission and promote healthier travel.

As prices of petroleum products continue to skyrocket with the Russia-Ukraine conflict still raging, this furthered the case of EVs being a wiser choice for the future of transportation in terms of air and even noise pollution compared to fossil fuel-powered vehicles.

The state of EV

GLOBAL EV car sales got hit by the Covid-19 pandemic but still, the EV industry sold 3 million cars in 2020, about 40 percent higher from 2019. The International Energy Agency (Agence Internationale de l’énergie) said last year, sales of EVs hit 108 percent and some analysts are looking at 2022 to be a “rosy” year for the EV industry.

In the Philippines, awareness about EVs is slowly picking up as many automotive enthusiasts slowly turn to this technology and solid support is also picking up. Currently, there are 110 charging stations in the country, and even the Department of Energy (DOE) is moving into the EV picture in terms of providing more support to the EV industry and EV owners themselves. There is also a law waiting for the President’s signing that will hopefully institutionalize the adoption of the use of EVs in both public and private transport sectors and support for necessary infrastructure.

The Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (eVAP) is taking the lead in the promotion of the use of EVs in the country, as it advocates a more environment-friendly transportation landscape in the country, ecologically and economically.

According to Edmund Araga, eVAP president, the association was established back in 2009 and currently has over 500 industry partners and 54 active members. “Our main purpose is to educate the public on environmental awareness, including the economic and ecological benefits of EVs,” he said.

He said eVAP is already accelerating the needed recognition in order to push for more Filipinos to make that switch from gas-powered to eventually electric-powered vehicles, and also to collaborate with the government in the creation and implementation of appropriate legislation that will support and encourage the use of electric vehicles.

During last year’s Philippine Electric Vehicle Summit by the eVAP with the theme “Accelerating the Switch to Electro-Mobility in the Philippines,” the association continues to make the call for the fast-tracking of EV adoption in the local transport sector, which is very much aligned with the national government’s objective of achieving a low-carbon economy. The event was also highlighted with the signing of a stakeholder memorandum of understanding that hopes to speed up the switch to electro-mobility by 2025.

EV usage, Philippine-style

ARAGA said the use of EVs in the country started way back in 2008 through a group of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that anticipated the future of the auto industry would be electric.

Slowly, the public transportation industry in the country is getting an upgrade, where commuters began to see e-jeeps and e-trikes plying some of the country’s major roads. According to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) 2019 data, around 12,865 EVs, mostly e-trikes, were registered in the country.

In terms of sourcing EV engines, Araga said major motor suppliers mostly come in from China as it is the acknowledged industry leader on all aspects related to EVs, from infrastructure to supply chain, processes and battery supplies.

Legislative action and support

ARAGA acknowledged that the EVIDA or Electric Vehicle Industry Development Act would be a big help to the EV cause in the country. The proposed measure, endorsed by Sen. Win Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy, and his counterpart in the Lower House, Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo, is awaiting President Duterte’s signature for it to become a full-fledged law.

The law states provisions that aim to promote the industry in the country and update some roadmaps in addressing concerns related to infrastructure, such as the establishment of an EV charging network, plus feasible business models for EV adoption and supply-chain concerns, plus classification, registration and operations of various types of EV. “The law also states mandatory procurement of at least 5 percent of electric vehicles on both private and public sectors to support the industry,” Araga said.

Araga said the law is also calling for the allocation of free parking on malls and other establishments, including exemption of EVs from the government’s vehicular volume reduction scheme or “color coding” upon approval.

As to the future of EVs in the country, Araga said eVAP is very optimistic that more players, investors and charging stations will be established once the law is approved and supported by all. “It’s just a matter of implementation in order to actually feel the changes in the entire auto industry as it shifts into electric vehicle mode,” Araga concludes.

Image credits: Walter Eric Sy | Dreamstime.com

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