Workshop guides future shift to electric two and three-wheelers

Shifting to electric two and three-wheelers could have substantial air pollution and climate change benefits, and as well as fossil fuel savings

The importance of integrating electric two and three-wheelers into urban transport systems in the Philippines was the focal point of a roundtable discussion workshop in November 2017.

The workshop, jointly organized by Clean Air Asia and United Nations Environment, brought together government agency representatives and other key stakeholders to discuss plans for the implementation of the global project “Integrating Electric 2&3 Wheelers into Existing Urban Transport Modes in Developing and Transitional Countries”. The project, which is supported by the International Climate Initiative of the German Environment Ministry, promotes the shift to electric two and three-wheelers in developing countries and encompasses activities in several countries, including the Philippines.

UN Environment Programme Officer and discussions facilitator Bert Fabian said the Southeast Asia region was home to the world’s highest number of two and three-wheelers. Shifting to electric two and three-wheelers could have substantial air pollution and climate change benefits, as well as fossil fuel savings.

Mr. Fabian talked about the three main components of the project: 1) Stakeholder coordination and engagement; 2) Baseline setting; and, 3) Designing a pilot program. The initiative will also examine exempting electric two and three-wheelers from tax or, at least, providing tax incentives.

In addition to project objectives, scopes and deliverables, the discussion also enabled the sharing of different initiatives and issues of concern related to two and three-wheelers in the Philippines.

Department of Transportation (DOTr) Undersecretary Anneli Lontoc presented the DOTr initiatives on two and three-wheelers and the Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program. Ms Lontoc said the workshop was important as the Philippines had the highest motorcycle growth rate in 2016: 1,140,338 units sold, while the share of two and three-wheelers was about 55 percent of the total vehicle population with a growth rate of 8.5 percent from 2006 to 2013.

She cited two key issues facing motorcycles and tricycles: Safety and operations. In relation to the former, the leading cause of road deaths in the Philippines was road crashes involving motorcycle (two-wheeled vehicle) users, with an average of 184 deaths from 2006 to 2013. She said the sharp rise in the number of motorcycles was directly proportional to the increase in motorcycle rider fatalities, which stood at 30 percent in 2013. She said the increase in the number of motorcycles was attributable to the need for personal mobility due to traffic congestion.

In relation to the latter, Ms Lontoc emphasized the 2008 Joint Memorandum Circular #1 series from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the DOTr, which stipulated that tricycle operations should be confined to city or municipal roads, as opposed to national roads, and be limited to routes that were not traversed by higher modes of public transport. This was reiterated under the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines (DOTr Department Order #2017-011).

Discussions also highlighted that on September 2017, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued a memorandum on vehicle emission standards for two and three-wheelers under Administrative Order 2010-24, which requires all units to be Euro 3 compliant.

Rommel Juan, President of the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (eVAP) NGO, said his organisation was advocating for an Electric Vehicle bill in the Senate and Congress. Mr Juan said eVAP also advocated for the formation of an EV association in Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, which will host next year’s EV summit. He said the EV Industry Roadmap 2014- 2024 had been released and could be shared with the group.

Dr Jose Bienvenido Biona, Director of the Center for Engineering and Sustainable Development Research at De La Salle University (DLSU) in Manila, said DLSU in collaboration with the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, Mapua University and the Technological University of the Philippines, was conducting a stocktaking report of electric vehicle policies in Philippines, including the grid – an initiative that complemented the project. The study will include local technical policies that are vital for the integration of electric vehicles into the transport sector.

A SWOT analysis was also conducted to discuss the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the current two and three-wheeler situation nationally, including awareness and capacity building, financing and economic instruments, regulatory instruments, and technologies, operations and infrastructure.

The group agreed that issues regarding three-wheelers were more pressing, and raised concerns that they needed to be the focus of the project, with the scope to support policy development, guidance on the design of tricycles, and support for the development of business models, including fare-setting to ensure sustainability. However, policy development and other activities concerning electric 2-wheelers will also be included.

The discussions also highlighted the importance of the participation of the DILG in the next round of talks as it played a critical role in the implementation, enforcement and franchising of tricycles.