Electric Vehicles for Public Transportation: Powering a Sustainable Future in the Philippines


Electric vehicles (EVs) have emerged as a transformative solution in the realm of public transportation. With their potential to mitigate environmental impacts and enhance economic sustainability, EVs offer a promising path forward for countries like the Philippines.

Join us as we explore the diverse benefits of using electric vehicles for public transportation, with a particular focus on the financial and environmental advantages. Let us find out the potential of EVs to revolutionise public transportation in the Philippines in this edition of VivoPower Insight.

The Rise of Electric Vehicles in Public Transportation

Electric vehicles are powered by electric motors rather than traditional internal combustion engines (ICEs). They can be categorised into battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). BEVs make use of power generated through an electric battery, while PHEVs use a combination of battery and ICE.

The Environmental Imperative

The Philippines, like many countries, faces pressing environmental challenges, including air pollution and climate change. Transitioning to electric vehicles for public transportation can significantly contribute to mitigating these issues.

Environmental Benefits of Electric Vehicles

1. Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions – One of the most prominent environmental advantages of electric vehicles is their capacity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). 
2. Improved Air Quality – Electric vehicles produce zero tailpipe emissions, eliminating the release of harmful pollutants such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere. 
3. Energy Efficiency – Electric vehicles are inherently more energy-efficient than their internal combustion engine counterparts. A higher percentage of electrical energy is converted into motion, resulting in reduced energy waste. 
4. Renewable Energy Integration – Electric vehicles can be charged using renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power, further reducing their carbon footprint.

Financial Benefits of Electric Vehicles

1. Reduced Fuel Costs – Charging an electric vehicle is often more cost-effective than fuelling a gasoline or diesel vehicle. The more stable pricing of electricity adds to the financial predictability of operating an EV. 
2. Lower Maintenance Costs – Electric vehicles have much fewer moving parts than ICE vehicles, leading to substantially reduced maintenance requirements and expenses. 
3. Government Incentives – Many governments worldwide offer financial incentives, tax credits, and rebates to promote the adoption of electric vehicles. These incentives are part of a country’s policies to make good on its commitment to stated sustainability objectives.

The Transition to Electric Public Transportation in the Philippines

The Philippines has a diverse public transportation system, with jeepneys, buses, and tricycles serving as popular modes of commuting. However, this system faces challenges, including air pollution, traffic congestion, and outdated infrastructure.

Electric jeepneys (e-jeepneys) have emerged as a sustainable alternative to traditional diesel jeepneys and are explicitly mandated by the Philippines government. The Public Utility Vehicle Modernisation Program (PUVMP) aims to replace ICE jeepneys with energy-efficient and environment-friendly electric versions with the key goal of reducing air pollution in the Manila metropolitan area as well as other urban centres.

Financing towards cooperatives that run jeepney services has been established to facilitate this transition. More recently, the government has passed the EVIDA law, which introduces a Comprehensive Roadmap for the Electric Vehicle Industry (CREVI) including significant incentives in components for EVs and charging stations, manufacturing, R&D, and human resource development. 

Combined with materially lower operating costs, this transition should result in significant savings for both operating companies/drivers and passengers. Energy cost alone would decrease from PHP 1,500-1,800 diesel cost per day to only around PHP 500-700 electricity cost per day, saving more than PHP 1,000 per day per jeepney unit.

Examples of EV Adoption for Public Transportation

Several cities around the world have already made significant strides in incorporating electric vehicles into their public transportation networks. These examples offer valuable insights and lessons to help the Philippines and other countries to consider a similar transition.

1. Shenzhen, China

Shenzhen achieved a significant milestone by becoming the world’s first city to fully electrify its bus fleet. The city replaced its entire fleet of traditional diesel buses with electric buses, totalling over 16,000 vehicles.

The transition was a multi-year effort that involved substantial investments in charging infrastructure, incentives for bus operators to make the switch, and a phased-out approach to retiring conventional buses. As a result, Shenzhen not only reduced its carbon footprint but also improved air quality significantly, demonstrating the feasibility and success of large-scale electrification in a major urban centre.

2. Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm has been at the forefront of adopting electric buses, contributing to the city’s commitment to sustainability and environmental consciousness. The city introduced a fleet of electric and hybrid buses, gradually replacing older, polluting models.

Stockholm’s transit authority worked closely with bus manufacturers and implemented supportive policies and incentives to encourage the adoption of electric buses. The city has witnessed a substantial reduction in emissions and improved air quality, demonstrating the positive impact of electric public transportation in a European context.

3. Los Angeles, USA

Los Angeles, a sprawling city known for its extensive highway system, has embraced the challenge of transitioning its public transit fleet to electric vehicles. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) has committed to a bold plan to transition its entire bus fleet to zero-emission vehicles by 2030.

To achieve this, LA Metro has partnered with various manufacturers to deploy electric buses, secured funding for infrastructure development, and implemented pilot programs to test the feasibility of different electric bus models. This initiative aligns with the city’s broader environmental goals and demonstrates how a major American city can lead the way in adopting sustainable transportation solutions.

4. London, UK

London, a global financial hub, has been progressively integrating electric buses into its iconic red double-decker fleet. The introduction of electric buses is part of the city’s broader plan to improve air quality and reduce emissions.

London’s transit authority, Transport for London (TfL), has implemented strict emissions standards and incentivized the adoption of electric buses. The famous Route 94, which connects Acton Green to Piccadilly Circus, became one of the first routes to operate exclusively with electric double-decker buses. This initiative showcases the adaptability of electric buses in a city with a rich public transportation history.

5. Oslo, Norway

Oslo has taken a comprehensive and holistic approach to the electrification of its public transportation system. The city has not only introduced electric buses but has also committed to electrifying its entire public transit fleet, including trams and ferries.

Oslo benefits from abundant renewable energy sources, allowing the city to power its electric vehicles with clean energy. Its ambitious goals are supported by a robust charging infrastructure, financial incentives for operators, and a strong commitment to sustainable urban development. The city’s success serves as a model for cities looking to transition their entire public transportation ecosystems to electric power.

These examples illustrate the diverse strategies employed by cities worldwide to successfully adopt electric vehicles for public transportation. From mega-cities in China to European capitals and North American metropolises, the global shift toward electrifying public transit is gaining momentum, offering valuable insights and inspiration for others looking to follow suit.

Challenges and Future Outlook

Infrastructure Development

To support widespread adoption, investment in charging infrastructure is essential. Rapid charging stations in urban centres and along major transportation routes are critical.

Battery Technology Advancements

Continued advancements in battery technology, including increased energy density and faster charging capabilities, will enhance the attractiveness of electric vehicles and reduce ‘range anxiety’.

Policy and Regulation

Governments should maintain or enact supportive policies, such as emission reduction targets, financial incentives, and stricter emissions standards, to accelerate the transition to electric public transportation. 

Investing in a Greener, More Sustainable Future

Electric vehicles have the potential to revolutionise public transportation in the Philippines and around the world. By reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality, and offering significant financial benefits, EVs are a vital component of a sustainable future.

The transition to electric public transportation is not without its challenges, but with the right policies, investments, and public support, it is an achievable goal. As the Philippines and other nations embrace EVs, they take a significant step toward cleaner, more efficient, and more sustainable transportation systems that benefit communities, the environment, and the economy.

VivoPower and Tembo have entered a joint venture with Francisco Motor Corporation to produce state-of-the-art electric jeepneys. The goal is to facilitate the Philippines’ sustainable transition from traditional ICE jeepneys to e-jeepneys.

Francisco Motors’ version of the e-jeepney retains much of the traditional jeepneys iconic look. However, these vehicles will soon be fitted with Tembo’s proprietary EV conversion kits designed for sustainable mobility.

For more news & insights, stay tuned to the VivoPower website. 

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