Meralco to Develop Electric Vehicles

Metro Manila’s power distribution utility Meralco is planning to develop, manufacture and market electric vehicles, in an effort to contribute to the reduction of the Philippines’ carbon footprint, says CEO and President Manuel V. Pangilinan.

Senator Ralph Recto tries driving an electric jeepney at the launch of the Philippines' first e-jeepney franchise in Makati City earlier this year. The metro's power distribution utility Meralco is planning to develop electric vehicles and improve the region's underlying infrastructure in order to support electric vehicles like this one. (Photo via Dateline.PH)

Electric vehicles will be a part of the Philippine government’s drive to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and to cut air pollution.

Given that Meralco is not in the business of manufacturing vehicles, Pangilinan says the company is open to entering into joint-venture agreements with local partners in the manufacture of eco-friendly vehicles. “We would like to explore [joint venture] possibilities with Filipino partners in manufacturing e-trikes, e-jeepneys, e-buses,” he said.

Meralco is likely to work with financing institutions in the development of green vehicles. The utility is also keen on helping companies by investing in the downstream manufacturing capability of this emerging industry. Meralco is also going to invest in the underlying infrastructure that will help support electric cars, in order to improve its capability in supplying electricity to these green vehicles. These may include fast-charging stations that can support the higher voltage needs of e-vehicles.

The Department of Energy is already supporting such an initiative, through the electric tricycle project led by the Asian Development Bank under the National Electric Vehicle Strategy. The DoE is already working with local manufacturers in building a sustainable business model for electric vehicles, such as the commercial electric jeepney franchise launched by the Makati City government.

But, while electric vehicles can help reduce a car’s consumption of fossil fuels, there is mixed opinion on the viability of electric cars, in terms of net carbon footprint, given that some electric grids likewise consume fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, in generating electricity. Still, alternative fuels and energy sources for cars are gaining popularity worldwide, in view of rising fuel prices and an increased concern for the environment.