MANILA, Philippines ? (UPDATE) Electric-powered jeepneys will soon be plying major commercial districts in the country in a bid to lessen pollution, as the Land Transportation Office (LTO) has officially approved its operation on Tuesday.
The E-PHUV (Electric Philippine Utility Vehicle) will initially travel along Makati's Legazpi and Salcedo villages but will soon run in Pasig, Mandaluyong, Puerto Princesa, Bacolod City, and Negros Occidental, according to its local manufacturer, the Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (MVPMAP).
The E-PHUV also hopes to "be the answer to the unabated increases in petroleum products," said Raffy Villareal, MVPMAP president.
The 14-seater jeep will provide a better alternative to expensive fuel, "there being no smoke to exhaust, it also reduces air pollutants produced by the operation of diesel fueled PUJS," Villareal said.
Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay said the E-PHUV would be safe because "meron itong [there is] seatbelt compliance."
He added that the E-PHUV would "partly be an answer to the problem we are experiencing that is pollution."
"We are optimistic about the positive impact of the electric jeepneys on the air quality of our city and other key cities of the country as well," Binay said.
If the E-PHUV proves viable, Binay said the city would eventually field a fleet of 50.
The electric-powered jeepney, which can be charged by simply plugging into an electric socket, can run for about eight hours. It can run at a maximum speed of 40 kilometers per hour with a cost of only P1.76 per km, said MVPMAP vice president Ferdi Racquelsantos said.
Transportation and Communication assistant secretary Bert Suansing classified the E-PHUV as a motor vehicle.
"Kasi kung magkakaroon pa ng ibang classification kailangan pa dapat pumunta ng Kongreso. Palagay ko hindi na kailangan [Because if there will be other classifications, it will still have to pass Congress. I think this is no longer needed]," he said.
Under Republic Act 3146, motor vehicles are classified as "vehicles operated except by muscle power," Suansing added.
"I'm very happy that electric-run jeepneys will be running on our streets,' he said.
Electric jeepneys will "be here to stay," Suansing said.
Racquelsantos said the E-PHUV would run on six, six-volt batteries, which would allow drivers to save on fuel cost of up to P53 a day as compared to using diesel.
Villareal also said local manufacturers would also benefit from the electric jeep program, since the vehicles would be made locally.
"The project will provide incremental volume to local parts makers who will supply the local value-added parts and labor. This is a boost to some 40,000 workers dependent on our local parts industry for their livelihood," he said.
In the meantime, only four E-PHUV will be in operation but this will increase in the future.
The E-jeep will run for free for two weeks, pending approval of its franchise and fare at the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
The E-PHUV routes in Makati are:
? Salcedo village: from Dela Costa St. turn right to Makati Avenue, right to Paseo de Roxas, right to Villar St., left to Leviste St., left to Rufino St., right to Ayala Avenue, and right to Dela Costa St;
? Legaspi village: from Salcedo St. turn right to Rufino St., left to Adelantado St., left to Gamboa St., left to Salcedo St., left to Benavidez St., left to Paseo de Roxas Ave., right to Legaspi St., left to Dela Rosa St., and left to Salcedo St.