PH should manufacture own electric vehicles, says MVP

Katherine Visconti
E-trikes, e-jeepneys and e-cars could be the wave of the future and Manuel V. Pangilinan says his company wants to jump on board and invest in clean transportation

MANILA, Philippines – The country’s largest power distributor, Manila Electric Co (Meralco), plans to invest in manufacturing facilities that would allow the Philippines to make its own electric-powered vehicles, said company CEO and President Manuel V. Pangilinan.

“There are anywhere between 2.5 to 3.5 million tricycles in this country and about 1.5 million jeepneys in this country. I say that because we should seriously consider whether we have the capability to manufacture our own tricycles, our own jeepneys, rather than relying on imports from foreign countries,” said Pangilinan at the sidelines of the stockholder meeting of Meralco parent, Metro Pacific Investments Corp (MPIC), on Friday, May 25.

The vehicles would help reduce the country’s reliance on oil, and benefit Meralco since Pangilinan said the power retailer plans to set up charging stations. 

Internationally, countries like Japan are jumping on the bandwagon to design and manufacture e-vehicles. “Automakers in Asia, China and Japan in particular, predict a higher penetration of fully electric vehicles than the global average” of 15% by 2025 said a January global automotive survey conducted by KPMG, a U.S. audit, tax, and advisory firm.

Though automakers across the board are investing in e-vehicles, many agree the technology is still in its “infancy.”

“We don’t really have any significant manufacturing industrial base to speak of and if we as a people don’t look into this opportunity to develop that particular manufacturing capability it will be a pity I think because then we’re giving a lot of livelihood, a lot of profits perhaps to China, to India, or Korea and even Japan or Taiwan,” said Pangilinan. He added that the aforementioned countries all are keen on entering the e-vehicle market.

“Now the opportunity is being offered to this country to develop an indigenous manufacturing capability. Because if we don’t do it we will have to import not only our cars but also our jeepneys, (and) our buses.”

Pangilinan could not specify a timeline, since he said his company was working with the University of the Philippines on feasibility studies.

But he expressed willingness to work with the government or form a joint venture.

“It would not be Metro Pacific who would be the investment vehicle with respect to any potential investment in the e-manufacturing potential of this country because MPIC has been styled and characterized as an infra company…. First Pacific would have to establish a separate special vehicle with respect to any potential investment in that particular industry.” Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co Ltd is the mother company of MPIC.

President Aquino has supported the development of alternative energy sources such as hydropower, geothermal, biomass and wind. And the government had partnered with the Asian Development Bank to donate more than 20 electric tricycles to the Mandaluyong government last year.

Still some leaders in the automotive sector are pushing for the government to offer more incentives to electric vehicle manufacturers and owners.

Pangilinan said he spoke “with the conviction of a Filipino” and “it would be a pity for this country” not to develop the technology as other countries do. –

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