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June 2, 2019

The Philippine Challenge for a Sustainable Transport Future

Fact: climate change has affected the conditions of most lives on the planet, human and nature alike. It has been proven that, along with other factors, nearly 69 percent of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions are caused by vehicle usage; modes of transportation that we use every day. While automobiles have made our lives so much more convenient and efficient (traffic, notwithstanding), it has become a detriment to the health and well-being of the planet. Add to that, the Philippines currently ranks 10th in world with the highest number of deaths attributed to air pollution, according to the 2019 State of Global Air report.

The next question is, what to do about it? With the automotive industry being a key economic driver in the Philippines, the pressure to make a change weighs heavy on its shoulders. One of the key measures to reducing greenhouse gas emissions is to look to new technology. In this case, we are talking of the electrification of vehicles and pushing for the usage of hybrid-electric on the streets.

Recognizing that there are quite a number of hurdles to its full implementation, Toyota Motor Philippines spearheaded the first Toyota Hybrid Electric Technology Conference, under the banner theme, “Toward Sustainable Mobility.” The conference brought together the personalities surrounding the effort, including government representatives from the Department of Trade and Industry, and the Bureau of Investments; environment groups, such as Clean Air Asia; leaders from the automotive industry; and a broad media base from both local and regional channels.

Coming from the discussion, here are some things that you need to know about the move toward a more sustainable transport.
  • As of December 2018, there are 4,362 registered EV vehicles in the country, with Toyota being the first automotive brand to make hybrid-electric vehicles locally accessible to the Philippines with the introduction of the second-generation Prius in 2009.
  • In Asia alone, there are 18,000 Toyota HEV vehicles, with Thailand being the biggest market. In the Philippines, the largest number of Toyota Prius vehicles can be found in Tacloban, as a donation from the Japanese government in the wake of Haiyan.
  • Not including the Japanese donation, TMP has clocked in sales of over 100 units of the Toyota Prius in the last 3 years. The Prius is currently priced at P 2.2 million.
  • There are currently 19 fully-functioning Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations. As one of the challenges to the effective roll-out of pure electric vehicles, one of the goals for the DTI is to have 200 charging stations installed nationwide, located in SM malls and Shell gasoline stations.
  • Not only is the introduction of hybrid-electric vehicles viewed as a measure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate air pollution, it is also being viewed as an economic driver through local EV manufacturing and infrastructure development. Adoption of EV technology starts at the core, with a change in manufacturing policies. Such was the road map for the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050 (TEC 2050), which was launched in 2015 and earmarked strategies toward establishing steps in sustainable and environmentally sound production processes.
  • While the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is encouraging the use of electric or hybrid-electric vehicles, there is no clear policy in the Philippines, unlike our other Asian counterparts like China, Malaysia, and Thailand.
  • There is a lack of awareness as to the benefits of hybrid-electric technology. Motorists view it as a means to save gas, but lose sight of the bigger picture. There are several factors that come into play for an effective strategy, requiring the collaboration between industry, government, and the academe.
  • The move toward hybrid-electric is one of the top priorities of the Philippines’ new inclusive innovation industrial strategy. In fact, according to the projection of the Nomura Research Institute (NRI), if supported correctly, the Philippines can achieve production of 1 million hybrid-electric vehicles by 2027. The Motor Vehicle Development Program under the Board of Investments had also expressed its commitment to align policies to achieve this target.
Words by Gen Tiu.

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