In 2007, an upstart automotive company blazed a new trail. It took the path less traveled, it cast its lot in the non-existent electric vehicle industry. The core group of this new company was composed of old hands in the auto parts manufacturing industry who wanted to make a truly local Filipino vehicle, hence the name Philippine Utility Vehicle, Inc. (PhUV Inc.).
The seven original incorporators who joined forces to form the consortium were people behind Yazaki-Torres, VSO, Glasteck, Nito Seiki, Autofir, MD Juan Enterprises and Manly Plastics. Then PhUV president Ferdinand Raquel Santos said that they commissioned a study that revealed that for a truly Pinoy vehicle, Filipinos opted for a utility vehicle that they can use as a business workhorse on weekdays and a family ride on weekends. The answer was the AUV.
“The group started on a design that called for as many value-added local parts as possible. We assembled the AUV body but we hit a major snag – we could not find an appropriate engine and power train supplier for the vehicle. This was when we came across an NGO project of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities. It called for three major components: a depot cum terminal cum charging station, a biogas engine to supply the power, and finally, a fleet of electric jeepneys as end-users. Fortunately for us, they needed a local auto company to manufacture and assemble their EJeepneys”.
PhUV VP Rommel Juan revealed that this gave birth to what is now the Makati Green Route which has a fleet of over 20 EJeepneys that serve three developmental routes in the Makati CBD. “We locally assembled the EJeepney for them, thus we ended up as the pioneer in the industry. Our EJeepneys are the first EJeepneys to receive the orange LTO license plate. It was also the first mass transport operation of EJeepneys to receive an LTFRB franchise. Up until today, the EJeepneys we supplied Makati are still in operation”.
Juan said it was thus not very difficult to get BOI registration as a pioneer in the industry, thus giving PhUV some incentives. “At the same time, we wanted to bring together all domestic EV players so we can plot a course for the industry. We organized the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines where Ferdi is chairman and I am president”.
Raquel Santos said that EVAP soon lead organized Philippine Electric Vehicle Summits to bring together major EV players both here and abroad under one roof. “From these Summits, business partnerships were forged to the mutual benefits of both parties. To spur the growth of the local EV industry, we fully supported the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Incentive Bills filed in both Houses of Congress. They propose to give fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to EV industry players and end-users to make us more competitive against our Asian neighbors”.
To date, PhUV has supplied EJeepney fleets to various private and institutional establishments such as the De La Salle University’s Ikot in its Dasmarinas, Cavite campus, the Ateneo EJeepneys in Katipunan, and the Filinvest City 360 Eco Loop in Alabang.
He further notes a recent spike in the consciousness of private institutions to go eco-friendly, realizing that not only is it pollution-free but economical as well. “The EV is here for good. Commuters have tried it and it works. They are convinced it is the vehicle of the future”.
Asked what PhUV’s secret of success was that has enabled it to stay afloat for eight years now in a sunrise industry, Juan says consistency and reliability. “Through the years, we have proven that we always endeavor to give the best product coupled with a reliable after-sales service in terms of parts and technically competent labor. We are not a flash in the pan, we are here for the long haul. Many EV companies have come and gone but PhUV has persevered and grown with the industry. That is because we have the passion and drive to steer this industry through turbulent seas”.
“You can rely on PhUV to be able to register 100% of all EVs that it assembles and sells. We are the pioneer so we have the experience. We welcome upstarts as long as they are credible and share our advocacies. The EV market is big enough for everyone. We encourage them to be part of EVAP so that we can have just one voice in the industry and take the EV industry to the next level. From PhUV’s end, we are so optimistic of the growth of the EV market we are targeting sales of 500 units EVs this year, primarily for the public transport sector”, Juan concludes.
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Editors Note: This article was written and published in 2015. Mr. Rommel Juan is now the chairman of EVAP, while. Ferdinand Raquel Santos has been promoted to Chairman Emeritus. And the new President of EVAP is Edmund Araga