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The saga of the eJeepney: From the concrete jungle to history PDF Print E-mail
By C. Lloyd T. Caliwan

MANILA, July 4 (PNA Feature) -- It was a sight to behold that morning of June 30, 2010 –- two green, colorful electric jeepneys (eJeepneys) amid the gleaming presidential limousine and a phalanx of massive SUVs of the Presidential Security Guards (PSG).

And not a few took notice. There was Vice President-elect Jejomar C. Binay, arriving for his inauguration at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila's Rizal Park in a no-frills, no-smoke eJeepney, nicknamed B-Jeep.
The eJeepney has just been made a part of history along with a statement -- the environment will be on top of Vice President Binay’s priority list.

“I used a B-Jeepney because it is a big opportunity to show our concern with environmental problems facing our country. It is not needed in the provinces because pollution is lesser there. We need to encourage the use of B-Jeepney in Metro Manila,” he said.

According to Binay, his riding in a B-jeepney with members of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP), students, nurses, medical sector representatives and senior citizens was his way of expressing his commitment to help solve the environmental problems facing the country.

Indeed, the eJeepney has come a long way since it was introduced almost two years ago. It is the product of what initially were separate efforts of two non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) was then working on propagating its Climate Friendly Cities (CFC) Program, while the Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (MVPMAP) had just launched its locally-assembled AUV, the Philippine Utility Vehicle (PhUV).

Red Constantino, ICSC head, said that the CFC Program has three major components.

“A participant must have a biodigester fed with biodegradable household wastes attached to a gas engine to generate electric power, a terminal or depot-cum-charging station and a fleet of electric vehicles (EVs) to complete the loop,” he explained.

On the other hand, MVPMAP had just then unveiled its PhUV prototype at the Market!Market! at The Fort in Taguig City.

MVPMAP vice president Rommel Juan said that the PhUV is an attempt to develop a truly Pinoy vehicle, an AUV designed by Pinoy engineers, fabricated by Pinoy technicians and assembled by Pinoy craftsmen.

“The PhUV Program was also intended to provide marginal production volume and income to MVPMAP’s 125 member-companies reeling from the lack of production volume. These companies were then operating at only about 40 percent of their rated plant capacities. It was hoped that the major car assemblers would take note of the PhUV and mass produce it,” he added.

ICSC needed a fleet of locally-assembled EVs, specifically jeepney, which is considered a true Pinoy icon. MVPMAP has the answer as the PhUV could be reconfigured into a jeepney. Thus was born the union that soon resulted in the eJeepney, the first locally-assembled EV to be actually put on the road. It was also the first EV to ever be granted the newly-minted orange license plate by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) under a new category, Low-Speed Vehicle (LSV).

The eJeepney has either a 5-kilowatt/72-volt or 7-kw/84- volt electric motor. It is a full EV powered by deep cycle, lead acid storage batteries from Motolite. It can be charged overnight on an ordinary wall outlet from 8 to 10 hours, then run the next day for 65 kilometers at a top speed of 35 kilometers per hour.

Juan said that slowly but surely, the eJeepney had moved from the drawing boards to the production floor to the end-users.

"It was first pilot-tested in the Puerto Princesa CFC Program of Mayor Edward Hagedorn. Fleets of eJeepneys were soon running the streets of schools with large campuses, resorts, industrial zones, commercial establishments, farms, theme parks and residential subdivisions. Even government institutions like the House of Representatives and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas acquired eJeepneys for their use,” Juan added.

In its first year alone, the eJeepney has won both local and international recognitions. It was given the Fr. Satur Neri Award by the Presidential Adviser on Climate Change. At the international front, it was adjudged by Discovery Channel’s Ecopolis as “the best new transport technology with the greatest opportunity for carbon savings.”

Today, one of the biggest pilot tests of EV application is the Makati Green Route (MGR) Project where 12 eJeepneys are plying two developmental routes in the Makati Central Business District: the Salcedo Village and the Legazpi Village routes.

Both loops start and end at the Landmark area along Makati Avenue. The good news: fare is free. The not-so-good news: the MGR operates during daytime only when passenger volumes are the heaviest.

"Today, we have in the MGR Project what is probably the first successful mass transport use of the EV in the whole of Asia. In the recent EV Asia Conference in Hong Kong that I attended with fellow PhUV Inc. officers Ferdi Raquel Santos and John Lee, we were surprised to find out that while other Asian countries were still on the drawing board stage, the Philippines already has the MGR going. EV Asia Conference organizers have requested that a technical paper on the eJeepney experience in the Philippines be presented during next year’s conference,” Juan said.

The success of the MGR has encouraged the Makati City government under newly-elected Mayor Junjun Binay to establish a third loop, the Heritage Route. Plans are also afoot to redevelop some old landmarks in the old Makati Poblacion to bring back the ambiance of its glory days. Included in the plan is a reduction in air pollution from vehicles in these areas. The eJeepney is the obvious solution.

The Heritage Route will start and end at Estrella corner Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA), passing through J.P. Rizal, the Makati City Hall, the old Poblacion and the Rockwell area.

“VP Binay's deciding to use a BJeep to his inauguration was therefore no accident. It only shows that the environment and the mitigation of climate change is a growing concern that need to be addressed, not only by VP Binay but by the entire Aquino administration,” Constantino said. (PNA Feature)
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