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The Green Jeepney revolution

A new scheme in the Philippines would turn 50,000 diesel jeepneys electric by 2022

The classic jeepney has been in the Philippines since the 1950s. The iconic model was originally refashioned from military vehicles brought to the country by US soldiers during the Second World War. Now, the jeepney is the main mode of transportation for the locals, as common as a bus or taxi is in most global cities.
The Philippines now aims to transform this classic design into something more environmentally friendly- running on electricity instead of diesel.

The first electric jeepney was released in 2008. However, it is only now that enough momentum has gathered to set a goal in place for the future. EV Philippines, QEV Capital and Philippine and Spanish businessmen Endika Aboitiz and Enrique Bañuelos, have proposed the conversion of an initial 50,000 jeepneys over the next five years (10,000 jeepneys per year)- around a quarter of the 200,000 jeepneys in service nationwide.

Aboitiz stated that: “The jeepney is as much Filipino as all of you. It is like London’s double-decker bus, it in itself is a moving museum. Taking the jeepney away is taking away a piece of our colourful history, an icon that many have come to associate with the Philippines. We can preserve the jeepney and modernise it without taking away its charm.”

This conversion from diesel to electric is not only helping the Philippines to keep up with other countries in modernising public transportation, it should also improve the health of its citizens. It is estimated that 5,000 people die from air pollution every year. Switching to electric will radically reduce air pollution, leaving the air cleaner for locals.

The electric jeepney has a lithium ion battery which can go for 80 to 140 km (50 to 87 miles), depending on load and conditions. It is equipped with either a 5 kw, 72-volt electric motor or a 7 kw, 84-volt one. Fast charging stations will be installed which can charge batteries from 20% up to 80% as quickly as 15 minutes.

The new fleet will reduce the consumption of oil by 375 million litres a year. ElecTrans could not immediately confirm the cost of converting these vehicles, but in the long run it is claimed that drivers should save any money they initially spend on conversions, with as much as $800 a year seen in energy and maintenance savings.
Electricity should also be more sustainable and cheaper than diesel, with power rates at $0.14 to $0.19/kWh and if client purchases solar, levelised cost of energy goes down to $0.04/kWh.

Bañuelos commented that: “What we propose is not replacement, but rehabilitation. Rehabilitate old jeepneys and make them like new, complete with electrical motors that will make it run on electricity instead of diesel. [We will] help drivers pay for the rehabilitation, through a special program that the Philippine government will make out for them—and in the end put more money in their pockets because the costs of charging with electricity would be so much cheaper than filling it up with diesel.”

There really only seems to be benefits to this revolution that is being proposed. The air will be cleaner, costs will be cheaper, oil consumption lower and the Philippines will be modernising its transportation whilst keeping its classic design and history. However, the true test will be whether drivers will indeed choose to switch to electric –it is only with their adoption that the revolution can begin to take action.

 

About Kirsty Lee

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