State of charge

The 10th Philippine Electric Vehicle Summit shows that the industry has come so far, but there’s still quite a ways to go

AFTER TWO years of online editions, the yearly showcase and forum that is the Philippine Electric Vehicle Summit (EVS) returned to a physical staging in a big way — back at the SMX Convention Center with a whole lot of electric eye candy and, more importantly, big ideas and updates.

A motorcade of electric vehicles signaled the start of the two-day affair last Thursday, with Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (EVAP) Chairman Ferdi Raquelsantos himself leading the line of electric vehicles (EVs) from various brands.

While the clarion call to encourage public and private sectors to push for EVs remained, much has changed since the last EVS, let alone its last physical holding. EVAP noted how the summit comes “a month after the implementing rules and regulations of the recently enacted Republic Act No. 11697 took effect.” More commonly known as the EVIDA (Electric Vehicle Industry Development Act), the law gives wings to the aspiration for greater EV adoption in the country through both incentives and policy guidelines. For instance, the law requires private and government organizations to make five percent of their fleets electric. In a release, EVAP added that “(EVIDA) also paves the way for (the) allocation of parking slots (for) EVs, installation of charging solutions in parking lots and gasoline stations, and designation of green routes in cities and municipalities.”

Said EVAP President Edmund Araga, “Now that the implementing rules and regulations of EVIDA are set, we count on public and private sectors to work hand-in-hand to make the switch to EVs faster… Hence, our 10th summit theme goes, ‘United in Driving e-Mobility in Support of EVIDA.” During the opening ceremonies, EVAP also revealed its new logo, said to “symbolize the organization’s and the industry’s shift in focus into faster electro-mobility adoption backed by legislation.”

One of the quickest ways to adoption appears to be in the logistics sector. “Volume-wise, it will be commercial vehicles… four-wheels and six-wheeler trucks,” Mr. Araga said in a subsequent Q&A session with members of the media.

A contentious issue though are the different charging protocols or conventions, which may prove to be cumbersome or even a hindrance to the more widespread acceptance of EVs. Mr. Araga said that this is something that should be driven by the market demand. “It’s hard if we just promote one charging standard. The market should be the one to dictate.”

“For us, we really move for interoperability,” said Nissan Philippines, Inc. General Manager for Communications Dax Avenido. “What we need to understand is that technology comes to the Philippines… from China, Japan, the US, Europe. It’s good to see them and not alienate any one of them… We’re trying to address range anxiety, so it becomes more inclusive if everyone can use them,” he added.

As for the local EV industry, Mr. Araga replied to my question about what needs to be done to grow it significantly. “This is something I told our other members as well,” he began. “What if we had a common platform, one design, one chassis? We’d be able to create volume.” By driving up volume, of course, the cost of production can then be lowered significantly — leading, hopefully, to a more accessible retail price.

EVAP Executive Director Manny Biona summarized the requirements for the development of the local industry in three words: “volume, cost, and quality,” namely, higher volume, uniformly good quality, and lower cost. “The priority is to bring down cost,” he emphasized.

Another idea to make EVs more accessible is if the country is able to develop its own electric motors, modules, and batteries. “This way, we can create and develop better (and more affordable) products in the market, like in Taiwan,” added Mr. Araga. Effective localization will, indeed, generate (pun intended) more business and greater adoption.

And while the government has “been listening to the EVAP on what can be done to address challenges,” the EVAP president said that an indispensable part of what is hoped to be the EV success story here is the availability of financing.

“We’ve talked with banks, but they still can’t seem to swallow the idea of EVs,” rued Mr. Araga in response to another question from this writer. “Yes, users buy with cash these days. But we need to help those who want to buy EVs for business. But what happens is that these get tucked into business loans, not vehicle loans. That, sadly, is the scenario now.”

To be honest, everyone needs to get on board the electric train if we really want to go places with it. Truly, it needs a full charge.

No stragglers allowed.

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