EVs new industry winner

    PUV modernization. More e-PUVs are on the roads today mainly due to the 50 industry players, like local manufacturers Bemac, Tojo Motors, and Star8. (Photo by RHOY COBILLA)

    The Philippines has a a competitive edge in the global electric vehicle (EV) industry due to its strong electronics sector, rich mineral resources used in battery technology and competent workers.

    Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez in his message at the Philippine Electric Vehicle Summit (PEVS), said EVs can be the Philippines’ new “industry winner” and can make the country a regional production hub.

    “We need to take advantage of the (global) trend (in EVs) by turning the Philippines into a regional production hub of EVs, given that almost all Asean countries are already doing the same,” Lopez said.

    Lopez said more than just locally manufacturing electric public utility vehicles (e-PUVs) “ let us envision the Philippines to be a globally competitive and innovative manufacturing hub for strategic EV parts and components like auto-electronics, charging stations, and EV batteries.”

    More e-PUVs streets are now plying the streets with the entry of 50 industry players, like local manufacturers Bemac, Tojo Motors, and Star8.

    The industry has achieved a production capacity of 150,000 units per year with a project cost of P1.305 billion to produce a wide range of electric vehicle products.

    Lopez cited major automobile brands aggressively promoting their EVs in the Philippines like Hyundai, Nissan, and Mitsubishi. In fact, Mitsubishi is launching their 2020 Outlander PHEV in the country this month while Nissan Philippines is bringing in their own Nissan Leaf.

    Lopez said other players like Tojo Motors will be sourcing battery cells from Jiangsu Highstar Battery Manufacturing Company, for the local assembly of EV batteries while the Philippine Nickel Industry Association is deepening the nickel industry’s role in the global battery supply chain.

    Lopez said said policies are in place supporting the sector such as the EV Industry Roadmap, the Investment Priorities Plan and the Motor Vehicle Development Program.

    Other support policies are being proposed such as the Electric Vehicle Incentive Strategy of the Department of Trade and Industry and the Electric Vehicles and Charging Stations Act.

    To address infrastructure, Lopez said government can encourage the setting up of charging stations in malls, exemptions for parking fees, and even toll gate discounts.

    “EVs will only become popular in the country if the price won’t be too prohibitive, if they charge fast enough, and if they’ll run far enough per charge. The challenge to our EV industry is to have enough charging stations around, and having EVs that can travel 500 kilometers on a full charge. We need to develop solutions to or solve the pain points in the industry, particularly battery life and charging time of batteries,” he said.

    Lopez said the country can leverage on the country’s electronics manufacturing strengths as well as its rich mineral resources used in battery technology, particularly nickel and cobalt.

    Lopez said the Philippines can develop its competency in EV technology similar to how it has upskilled in the aerospace industry.