Electric vehicles are the plug-and-drive option for sustainable transport

The usage of electric vehicles (EV) appears to be approaching an inflection point in the Philippines, with regulation, battery technology, vehicle prices, and sustainability goals seemingly converging.

“The EV industry sees 2024 as the tipping point,” said Meralco’s EV Product Manager Anthony T. Agoncillo, who has helped push the power distributor’s advocacy to get more electric vehicles on Philippine roads. “We expect electric vehicles to reach price parity with conventional models by then,” he added.

The local EV industry’s sanguine outlook compared to the picture painted by forecasts from BloombergNEF, which suggests that total cost of ownership (TCO) of electric vehicles will reach parity with cars that use internal combustion engines around 2027, is borne from conversations with car companies that have started to introduce their electric vehicle models locally.

Whether it happens in 2024 or several years later, the development is happy news for Meralco which has been at the forefront in driving the so-called “green mobility” since 2010. Agoncillo has been with Meralco for 21 years, and almost half of those years have been spent getting electric vehicles—from electric tricycles to electric jeeps and electric shuttles—on the streets, ferrying more people. A couple of universities, local government units, industrial parks and mall operators were among the early converts.

“The overarching theme here is sustainability,” said Agoncillo. These early adapters of EV technology played a part in contributing their share to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and help mitigate climate change.  On an overall TCO basis, the savings from using electricity as a power source for vehicles can be as much as 70% compared with gas-fueled cars. Apart from the lower cost, another potential driver of a shift to EVs is the ecological benefits of zero emission or being carbon neutral.

Aside from helping its corporate partners achieve their sustainability goals, Meralco is doing its own share. It aims to contract 1,500 MW from renewable energy producers in the next five years and, on its own, build around 1,500 MW of generation capacity from RE sources. Meantime, all of Meralco’s 8,101 pad-mounted distribution transformers already use biodegradable ester oil as insulating fluid while other DTs, including the pole-mounted, will use the earth-friendly oil in the future.

Meralco launched in 2020 its Green Mobility program to reduce GHG emissions by gradually replacing the gas-fueled vehicles in its fleet with those powered by electricity. This year, Meralco plans to roll out 121 EVs, leading to 6% fleet electrification. By 2030, Meralco aims to achieve 25% fleet electrification. 

The groundswell of support for wider EV adoption is evident.

The Philippine Senate passed the Electric Vehicles and Charging Stations Bill, while the House of Representatives is rushing the passage of its version of the bill. A reconciled bill will hopefully be presented to the president for his signature soon.

Earlier, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) had issued an administrative order which consolidated guidelines on the classification, registration and operation of electric vehicles, including E-jeeps and E-trikes.

Separately, the passage of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE Act) has provided a pathway for the grant of fiscal incentives for those who would manufacture electric vehicles.

The Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (eVAP), composed of various local and foreign EV industry stakeholders, are holding the 9th iteration of the Philippine Electric Vehicle Summit virtually through the online platform Zoom on September 23-24, 2021.  

All these activities are seen to parallel what is happening in other parts of the world, particularly in China, Japan and Singapore, where the use of electricity-driven vehicles are becoming more pervasive.

In its “Global EV Outlook 2021”, the Paris-based International Energy Agency reported that the global electric car stock hit 10 million in 2020, up 43% from 2019, a rapid growth the underscores increasing demand. Battery electric vehicles accounted for two-thirds of new electric cars given its longer range per charge of as much as 400 kilometers.  With EVs expected to reach 1,000 kilometers in a single charge in the next few years, which is more than enough for commercial transport application, the advent of green mobility is literally and figuratively just around the (street) corner. 

In view of all of these, it is now time to start the conversation on how EVs can be a sustainable transport option for companies.  

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