A smoother drive for an environment-friendly jeepney

- Rose Dela Cruz -

The signing last April 30 of the guidelines governing the commercial operations of electric jeepneys along national highways now opens the gates for all kinds of players wanting to get a share of this market.

The pioneer in the ejeepneys, Solar Electric Co. (Solarco) of Robert Lopez Puckett, is now being flooded with orders from private subdivisions and learning centers; local government units and even some jeepney operators wanting to test the market for Metro Manila and other key cities in the country.

The ejeepney’s popularity grew immensely after the testing in Makati City, where people noticed their smooth and quiet drive, zero emission and comfortable leg and head room.

Solarco — a member of the Green Renewable Independent Power Producer (GRIPP) consortium along with Greenpeace Philippines – was behind the successful launching of the ejeepneys in the country in July 2007 in Makati City and in Bacolod City.

Puckett said his original estimate on the cost of electrically charging the ejeepneys was P165 per day but it turned out that the Makati experience showed charging cost at only P100 additional bill daily or P3,000 a month as against the cost of gasoline of P1,000 to P1,500 a day to run the jeepneys.

Puckett said his company is now working out the possible “charging stations” with some private lot owners and with the Manila Electric Co. for the installation of new meters, where drivers can charge their units at any time of the day. They can also charge the units at their home sockets after a day’s work. Possible charging sites can also be transport terminals and mall parking areas.

GRIPP’s “Climate Friendly Cities Project” is partly funded by the Dutch Doen Foundation which originally intended to supply 50 units to Bacolod City, the first city to embrace environment- friendly technologies. But when Solarco imported 10 units from its supplier in China, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay insisted that two units be tested in Makati last July, which became a highly-publicized launch that brought the Philippines to world attention.

Aside from Makati City, those that had units for pilot testing were the La Mesa Ecopark (which was later borrowed by the Manila Observatory inside Ateneo de Manila); Bacolod, Puerto Princesa and Baguio City.

Solarco has sold since July 2007 a total of 20 units of ejeepneys, each worth P595,000 which is even cheaper than locally manufactured gasoline or diesel-fired jeepneys.








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