Carl Cabusas

Cebuano with zest for cars, gadgets, watches, travel, food, and real estate.

EV, Hybrid and the Future of Motoring in the Philippines

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We have heard so much about this in the past, that Hybrid and full Electric Vehicles (EV) may soon be a mainstream choice in the car industry in the Philippines. This took a while because our Gov't didn't offer any incentives to bring in cleaner and energy sustainable vehicles at a lower price. Also, there aren't any infrastructure like charging stations to support EV charging in public places yet. Other than that, our Government before didn't also allow Registration of vehicles that are not powered by normal combustion engines and lastly, 2 things; 1. emission standards (local and International) back then wasn't as strict as today and 2, there just wasn't any market or at least a bigger need for it to bring in a big volume of Hybrid and EV vehicles in the country.

But all these are a about to change from 2019 onwards. The Government has just announced that it will now allow Registration of EV vehicles under certain conditions. We are just waiting for the final IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations) from LTO for this to be fully implemented. In addition, International emission standards set by the EU and the US have also hit other markets, including ours. Vehicles produced in other countries that will enter the EU and the US will have to meet their strict emission standards. And why will this affect our market? Well, when car manufacturers mass produce engines, they might as well produce one standardize engine that meets the highest and most stringent of emission standards in the 1st world countries and be over speced in some other markets like the ASEAN. Producing just one standardized engine for one car for all markets will save them a lot of production cost and streamline production and supply chain.

So with this recent development, car manufacturers doesn't have a lot of choice but to push for clean and sustainable powered vehicles in the Philippines to keep up with other countries complying to international emission standards. Earlier on, we have seen the likes of Honda Philippines introduced a 2 door coupe called the Honda CR-Z Hybrid. Then Toyota introduced 2 generations of Hybrid Prius sedan in the country on special orders as it was priced like a luxury SUV for a small sedan. Those Hybrid vehicles in the past didn't do so well because they were all sourced out from Japan which engine displacenent wasn't covered by the Japan-Philippines Economic Patnership Agreement (JPEPA) making them more expensive than Thailand sourced Toyota Camry sized sedans. With this Bilateral-Trade agreement between Japan and the Philippines, Japan-made vehicles with 3.0-liter engines and above are now tax-free under the JPEPA. Lower displacement engines, however are not covered under this program making the Pruis and Nissan Leaf very expensive if sourced in Japan. But thanks to ASEAN Free trade agreement (AFTA), vehicles made in South East Asia (ASEAN member countries) will enjoy a lower tariff (up to 5% tariff only) compared to those Hybrid and EV vehiles sourced from Japan or from Europe.

With that in place, it seems that the domestic market is almost ready for these kind of green friendly vehicles. Nissan has announced that it will eventually sell its Nissan Leaf all Electric hatchback plug in Vehicle in the Philippines. Hyundai and Toyota have started selling their Hybrid sedans, Ioniq for Hyundai and the Toyota Corolla Hybrid sedan. Other auto makers like Volvo Philippines has also commited to bringing in their hybrid and EV plug in models which will surely shake up the luxury car market segment. Hopefully, this will encourage others like BMW and Mercedes-Benz to bring in their own versions soon. But the biggest winner in this category are the Chinese car makers. They have overtaken some big names in the industry in selling really good and reliable Hybrids and EV vehicles at a very competitive price.

The future in the Motoring industry is indeed towards Electrification. Is this the end of the conventional engines? I think not! I for one still prefer regular combustion engine as opposed to full EV or Hybrid vehicles. 1st limiting factor are its prices. Prices of EV and Hybrid vehicles are usually higher compared to normal combustion engined vehicles. The main advantage in driving a Full EV, torque rating is instantaneous because it uses a Direct Drive system. It doesn't need complicated gears to convert power to be sent to the wheels driving it. On Normal combustion engines, it needs traditional gears, several gears to convert torque to usable energy. But driving a normal combustion engine has always been a lot of fun, manually changing gears and or using the paddle shifts on Automatic transmission vehicles are a whole lot of fun. Also, the sound of the engine revving up to attain maximum rpm band to extract needed power from the engine is music to the ears for many car enthusiasts. You just dont hear manual gear shifting, engines revving and loud exhaust note on full EV cars. In fact, most EV cars have fake engine sound as an optional feature to mimic regular vehicles for safety reasons. Hybrids on the other hand may work in our market as it pairs with normal cumbustion engines with an Electric Motor to power the vehicle. The Electric motor powers the Hybrid vehicle at lower engine speeds while the combustion engine takes over for heavier work load. In Hybrid vehicles, the electric motor compliments the function of the traditional combustion engines. Hybrid vehicles also does not require plug in charging like Full Electric Vehicles do.

Until prices of Hybrid vehicles and Full Electric Vehicles goes down to an acceptable level like normal sedans and SUVs powered by normal combustion engines in our country, they will always remain as a second option. Government should intervene by giving incentives to buyers who opt to buy Hybrid and Full Electric Vehicles to lower acquisition cost. Another hindrance for Filipinos to try out renewable and sustainable vehicles are the lack of infrastructures meant to service these vehicles like charging stations and service stations that would service them after warranty period. And then there's the question of reliability of these vehicles in long term ownership especially in bad road conditions and constant flooding in the Philippines. Will they be as dependable and trustworthy as normal vehicles? Are you willing to make that big move in order for you to do your own share in lessening your carbon footprint in the Motoring world? The technology is available now, it's up to us to decide what's best for us and for the environment.

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Carl Cabusas
A graduate in Business Administration and Economics, Carl Cabusas works as a real estate professional by day. He has been a car enthusiast at a very young age while growing up in the U.S influenced by his uncle who is an avid car collector. The passion for travel, lifestyle, gadgets and watches is his take on living life in the right balance of yen and yang (work and life balance) in the hopes of encouraging others to work hard but at the same time enjoy life and live it to the fullest and discover their own passion.