Politics

Electric roll call

4 Mins read

PARDON THE PUN, but it’s almost shocking when you realize that there are now more pure electric vehicles on the market than there are pickups and vans combined.

And you know how crazy Filipinos are about pickups and vans.

Just three years ago, electric vehicles were more a curiosity than a legitimate alternative to an ICE (internal combustion engine) car. The choices then were pretty much the Nissan Leaf (which retailed for just under P2.8 million) and the Porsche Taycan (well, if you need to ask the price…).

Fast-forward a mere three years and, thanks to the EVIDA Law that granted tax breaks to electrified cars, the Nissan Leaf is now just under P1.9 million (a whopping P900,000 price drop) while the Porsche Taycan has been joined by pure EVs from Audi, Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz — plus a dozen other mainstream brands. You can now bring home a pure EV for under P700,000.

CHALLENGESOf course, the principal issue pertaining to EV ownership — range anxiety — is still there. And while many electric vehicles have impressively long driving range (a fair number can exceed 400 kilometers on a full charge), it is still the severe lack of charging stations that give car buyers pause.

Yes, you can drive a fully charged EV every day for a week for your home-office commute and need to charge it only by the weekend, but people who buy cars would prefer that it be able to take them to a round of golf in Laguna on a whim (without having to calculate if they can make it back) or go on a drive to Baguio and not have to worry about finding an AC outlet as soon as they arrive.

Yes, there is a growing number of charging stations in the malls, but the two or three charging stations in each mall are proving inadequate to charge the fast-growing number of EVs and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).

I’ve brought EVs and PHEVs to malls and, half the time, all the charging station slots are occupied. For weekends, it’s a totally different matter; they’re almost always full.

There simply should be more charging stations at malls, and also at car parks, office and residential condominiums, and along major thoroughfares (especially along NLEX, SLEX, and other expressways). They don’t even have to be for free (as they are now at the malls).

RELIABILITYEV reliability? The myth about poor electric car reliability has been busted, at least according to data from one of the UK’s leading vehicular breakdown providers.

Contrary to common perceptions, EVs are 59% less likely to require a breakdown emergency call than ICE vehicles, at least based on UK statistics.

“Our figures show electric cars ranging from new to 10 years old are 59% less prone to breakdowns than ICE cars,” said UK firm Start Rescue Managing Director Lee Puffett. “This might surprise some motorists, but with more than a million EVs now on the UK’s roads it shows drivers can choose an EV, confident that they are less likely to be stranded at the roadside.”

Puffett added: “The hurdle to buying an EV of any age is more psychological than real for most buyers looking to make the switch from ICE to electric power. EV batteries are not like the ones in your mobile phone or laptop — they retain far more of their charge capacity to give you plenty of driving range. However, you still need to look after the 12-volt battery to avoid one of the most common causes of call-outs.”

An EV’s 12-volt battery, very similar to the one you’ll find in a regular ICE car, performs the same functions as in petrol and diesel cars, such as powering the dashboard electronics, which enable the vehicle to start, as well as supplying electricity for the power door locks, lights, wipers, power windows, power seats, the sunroof, and the infotainment system.

The good news, from Start Rescue’s own data, is that EVs are less likely to suffer from a dead battery emergency call than petrol or diesel cars. For EVs, this accounts for 23.7% (just under one out of four) of call-outs compared to 29.7% (one out of three) for petrol and diesel. Regular use keeps the 12-volt battery in good condition and avoids breakdown emergency calls as EVs still need this system to open the doors and start.

WHO’S SELLING WHAT?So what are the pure electric cars on the market now? Here they are (and their various models) in alphabetical order:

There are now 16 automotive brands that purvey (or will soon bring in) 32 different models of pure electric vehicles. And that’s not even counting the individual variants. I added Foton’s Tornado EV light truck as it was the first fully electric truck to hit the local market.

No less than six luxury brands offer full EVs while 10 mass-market brands are currently offering (or are planning to release) them soon. Prices range from a low of P699,000 for the Jetour Ice Cream (100kph top speed and 170-km driving range) to a more mainstream P1,468,888 for the MG 4 EV all the way to over P4 million (and in some cases, way over P4 million) for the luxury brands. And there are several more new EVs expected to debut in next month’s Manila International Auto Show (MIAS 2024).

All of this bodes well for the future of electrified mobility in the country. More choices are always good. We just need the government and big business to get the ball rolling faster. The age of noiseless and smoke-free urban centers might yet be realized in our lifetime.