By Joe Zaldarriaga
Powering adoption of electric vehicles
Just when mobility began increasing as the country recovers from Covid-19, the war between Ukraine and Russia -- two of the world’s largest oil producers, sent economies tumbling after the massive increases in global crude oil prices that dribbled down to the local fuel industry.
Based on data from Statista, the average retail price of one liter of gas in the Philippines is now up by 36.9 percent in the first half of the year versus the same period in 2021, making it a huge challenge for the transportation sector which is one of the priority sectors for the development of the Marcos administration.
In his first State of the Nation Address, President Ferdinand R. Marcos said that one of his priority programs is developing the country’s transportation industry through a better railway system. There were also statements assuring improvements in the mass transport system -- one that is not only efficient but also eco-friendly.
For more than a decade now, the Philippine government has been promoting the use of electric vehicles (EV) with the goal of creating a more sustainable environment for the country. In 2006, the government issued Executive Order 488 to support the manufacturing of EVs. This effectively reduced the tariff rate for EV components, consequently allowing EV manufacturers to import at a more affordable price.
This was further supported by Republic Act 11697, or the EV Industry Development Act (EVIDA), which provides a national policy framework to develop the electric vehicle industry in the Philippines.
There is increasing interest in EVs in the country, and the pandemic years were a testament to this when transportation and mobility were limited to keep the virus outbreak at bay.
As compared with conventional vehicles, EVs are more eco-friendly as they do not emit carbon dioxide that is harmful to the environment and are considerably more economical. A report said that the energy consumption cost of using an EV or electric public utility jeepney (EV-PUJ) is roughly 39 percent as against a diesel-fueled conventional PUJ.
Many companies have also incorporated EVs into their sustainability agenda. One of which is the Manila Electric Company (Meralco), the largest distribution utility in the Philippines.
Over the last two years, Meralco has launched its Green Mobility Program which aimed to electrify its entire vehicle fleet. As of this writing, Meralco has successfully converted the entire fleet of its Metro Manila Business Centers into EVs.
To support the program, Meralco installed five fast chargers in strategic locations across its franchise area and looking to more than double the number over the next three months. Four more charging stations will be put up at its Power Tech facility at the Meralco Compound which can cater to almost all major commercially available protocols to date. It is also expected to feature a vehicle-to-home bidirectional charging station that will allow customers to use their EVs to supply power to their appliances.
Technology-wise, new models continue to evolve. According to Meralco Chief Sustainability Officer Raymond Ravelo during the recently concluded 10th Philippine EV Summit, new models now are able to reach over 800 kilometers on a single charge -- roughly the distance between Pasay City and Banaue, Ifugao, and back, whereas EVs could barely run 100 kilometers on a full charge a decade ago.
In addition, Ravelo says that EVs have improved greatly, especially as lithium-ion battery pack prices are now down by already 90 percent from over $1,200 per kWh in 2010 to just around $130 last year. This has consequently driven down the price of an EV with a comparable range to almost a third of price points a decade ago.
Compared to neighboring countries such as Thailand and Singapore, the Philippines’ development of the EV industry is still relatively slow. This is where government participation plays a very crucial role.
EV industry acceleration will happen given enough government support through policies as well as the provision of subsidies or incentives. Manufacturers will be encouraged to ramp up production, thereby bringing down the prices and generating more jobs.
Just as the whole world goes in the same direction, EV adoption in the Philippines is inevitable -- it is just a matter of when. Best that we adapt early on, and educate ourselves and others on the benefits of an electrified and green future.
Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Office of the Press Secretary.
About the Columnist
Joe Zaldarriaga is a veteran, award-winning communicator immersed in public service within and beyond the energy sector. He has more than 30 years of experience serving the country’s biggest electric distribution utility and is involved in a number of public service functions, as member of various committees on public safety, power supply security and electrification. Concurrently, he is a prominent figure in the Philippine communications industry, as Chairman and Past President of the US-based International Association of Business Communicators Philippines (IABC PH). He is also an awardee of the University of Manila’s Medallion of Honor (Dr. Mariano V. delos Santos Memorial) and a Scroll of Commendation, a testament to his celebrated years in public service exemplified by outstanding communications.
Joe also shares his opinion and outlook on relevant national and consumer issues as a columnist in several prominent publications and is now venturing into new media via hosting a new vlog called Cup of Joe. Previously, Joe was a reporter and desk editor of a Broadcasting Company and the former auditor of the Defense Press Corps of the Philippines. A true green Lasalian, he finished with a degree in Asian Studies specializing in the Japan Studies program at De La Salle University, Manila, where he also spent his entire education.