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On the future of the common auto repair shop

I saw this article on Wired about how high-tech vehicles are killing the auto repair shop. I have to agree with the observation. Perhaps it’s more imminent in the First World where newer model vehicles including electric and hybrid vehicles cannot just be repaired at a conventional auto repair shop. And they do have more of the newer vehicles as they have phased out the older ones that don’t comply with the higher standards that are now in place in terms of things like emissions and fuel consumption.

Marshall, A. (October 20, 2022) “High-Tech Cars Are Killing the Auto Repair Shop,” Wired, https://www.wired.com/story/high-tech-cars-killing-the-traditional-auto-repair-shop/?bxid=5bd6761b3f92a41245dde413&cndid=37243643&esrc=AUTO_OTHER&source=EDT_WIR_NEWSLETTER_0_DAILY_ZZ&utm_brand=wired&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_content=WIR_daily_102122&utm_mailing=WIR_daily_102122&utm_medium=email&utm_source=nl&utm_term=P4 [Last accessed: 10/22/2022]

To quote from the article:

“As the traditional auto repair shop disappears, so might the stereotype about the grizzled and grimy auto repair tech with a wrench in his hand. “These complexities have made it more difficult for a shop to operate if it’s not running properly—if it’s not properly funded, not properly insured, doesn’t have the correct tooling, doesn’t have the right insurance,” says Lucas Underwood, the North Carolina shop owner.”

In our case, there are still so many of the conventional vehicles operating including the locally fabricated ones using surplus engines. At least for the more basic repairs the neighborhood repair shops, the “talyers” as we call them, will survive for now and perhaps for a longer while than how it is in the First World. Even the backyard or self taught auto mechanics are trying to keep up with the electronics and many are honest enough to tell you to go to the ‘casa’ if they cannot repair your vehicle or perhaps the parts are not available at the typical auto supply shop.

On electric vehicles and informal transport

I’ve been involved in studies on electric vehicles and their applications in the past. I continue to take part in studies about informal transport including continuing research on motorcycle taxis or “habal-habal” as they are called in the Philippines. The combination of the two is an interesting research area and there are many topics that can be developed as we determine the most appropriate applications for electric vehicles. Here is an interesting article on electrifying informal transport that sets the context for research:

Ribet, L. (August 30, 2022) “The role of data in electrifying informal transport,” Slocat partnership, https://slocat.net/the-role-of-data-in-electrifying-informal-transport/ [Last accessed: 9/9/2022]

To quote from the article:

“However, electric two-and-three wheeler startups, informal transport retrofitting pilots and e-bus initiatives cannot be the only answer to the mobility challenges facing developing cities. Phasing out oil-reliant public transportation is needed and investing in electric mobility solutions may well improve the overall picture quite substantially, but there is a far larger challenge that is omitted from these ambitions: addressing the complex operations of informal transport systems that characterise lower-income countries’ urban mobility. Electrifying minibus taxis is not synonymous with more reliable, affordable and convenient public transport, and we need to prioritise the understanding and improvement of overall informal transport systems data first.”

 

 

On electric vehicles not being the fix we need for transport

Much has been said and written about how electric vehicles could be the game changer for transport. Those include supportive material and also those that are more critical and provide different perspectives to EVs. Here is another article that discusses EVs in the context of the avoid, shift, improve framework:

O’Riordan, V. (November 30, 2021) “Electric vehicles aren’t a fix for carbon emissions. These 3 things need to change—fast,” Fast Company, https://www.fastcompany.com/90700832/electric-vehicles-arent-a-fix-for-carbon-emissions-these-3-things-need-to-change-fast [Last accessed: 12/17/2021]

There’s a recent article about the environmental impacts of manufacturing EVs including the batteries used by these vehicles. I will share that in another post.

On ‘electric cars’ still being ‘cars’

With the current climate talks in the background, there is also a parallel discussion on the impacts of electric vehicles and self-driving cars. Will they help solve our transport or traffic problems? Perhaps e-cars will contribute to the reduction of emissions and greenhouse gases. Perhaps they can also help in reducing dependence on fossil fuels. But can they alleviate congestion? Or will they just promote more car-dependence? Here’s a nice article from early this year that discusses the “big problem” with electric cars:

I also read another article about the issues concerning the batteries (e.g., lithium batteries) used by these e-vehicles. We are only beginning to see how difficult it is to deal with the waste of used batteries not just from e-vehicles but from other sources as well. Renewables like solar, for example, requires batteries for storage. These are issues that need to be addressed ASAP. Otherwise, it will be a losing proposition for people in general as they end up with modes of transport that are not sustainable for the future. Perhaps we can just walk or bike?

On electric vehicles in the Philippines – current situation and prospects

Here’s a quick share of an article on electric vehicles in the Philippines:

Fernandez, H.A. (September 7, 2021) “Electric vehicles in the Philippines: a mottled green solution,” Eco-Business, https://www.eco-business.com/news/electric-vehicles-in-the-philippines-a-mottled-green-solution/ [Last accessed: 9/8/2021]

An e-vehicle at a charging station at the University of the Philippines Diliman

It is interesting that the article cites past studies that covered not just e-vehicles but the bigger picture for transport. I think most if not all people who were doing work on low carbon transport including the modeling of scenarios for the long term were not able to anticipate something like Covid-19 disrupting activities around the world and curbing emissions so drastically in the last year. The so-called ‘old normal’ situation has not returned but some say that even with the pandemic affecting transport, we still won’t be able to attain the targets necessary to stave off global warming. The bottomline is that we need more aggressive actions and probably, shifting to e-vehicles is one of those that combined with others will help achieve targets.

On the PUV modernisation program – Part 1

Much has been written about the government’s PUV (or jeepney?) modernization program so I wouldn’t really be reposting about these. Instead, I will be featuring some opinions, insights and observations about its implementation.

Following are photos of one e-jeepney model that the government appears to be promoting. This is the e-jeepney produced by Star8 that they claim to be have solar panels for charging while they are on the road. Of course, we know they are not wholly dependent on solar power and have to be charged the conventional way through an adaptor that’s plugged into a regular outlet. These e-jeepneys were supposed to supplement the reduced supply of public transport to mainly UP students, staff and faculty members when the i-ACT (Inter-Agency Committee on Traffic) conducted their “Tanggal Bulok, Tanggal Usok” campaign in the UP Diliman area. First-hand reports revealed otherwise as the e-jeepneys spent more time on stand-by and just charging at one of the buildings on campus.

These are the same e-jeepneys that have been deployed and currently roaming around Tacloban City (promoting themselves?). The intent was for these to be the vehicles plying the new routes approved by the LTFRB/DOTr, which they claim was in response to the request made by Tacloban. The new routes though overlapped with many existing jeepney routes, clearly in violation of the general rule regarding overlapping routes, but allowed nonetheless by the regulating authority.

There are many allegations going around about e-jeepneys being forced upon operators and drivers given what has been regarded by progressive groups as unrealistic (read: unaffordable) financing schemes for the new vehicles. These are certainly not cheap, and double to triple the price of a ‘newer’ conventional jeepney. There are also suspicions about the strong motivation for the phaseout in favour of what are peddled as the successor (or replacement) to the jeepney. That includes a possible collusion among officials and the companies behind these vehicles and allegations (again) of some people likely gaining financially from the set-up. The DOTr and LTFRB PR machine, however, deny this and will gang up on anyone posting about this in their social media page.

Electric vehicle models at the 5th Electric Vehicle Summit – Part 2

I already featured a lot of the electric vehicle models that were on display at the 5th EV Summit and this second part adds to those in the Part 1. There are some new models in the following photos including a mini-bus model that features a lot of doors and a similarly-designed jitney model. I took photos of the interiors as well to give the reader an idea of the layout of these models and perhaps imagine how they could fit as potential public utility vehicles.

IMG_1333Electric minibus model

IMG_1334Interior of the minibus showing rows of seats

IMG_1335Driver and front seats

IMG_1336Rear seats facing the back instead of the front – the large window gives passengers a nice clear view of following vehicles, among others.

IMG_1337The minibus had many doors (8 total) to allow passengers to board and alight from each row.

IMG_1338Front of the mini-bus featuring a single large wiper

IMG_1339Jeepney-sized version of the minibus also featured multiple side doors (6 of them for this vehicle).

IMG_1340Seats inside the jitney

IMG_1341Dashboard and steering wheel of the electric jitney

IMG_1342Another look at the latest model of the electric jeepney

IMG_1343The door is at the curbside

IMG_1344Driver’s seat

IMG_1345Bench seat layout for the e-jeepney

IMG_1346Front view of the e-jeepney featuring a pronounced and familiar snout

IMG_1347Setting up for display and demo

IMG_1348Star8’s e-trike model featuring a side door instead of one at the rear

IMG_1349Bench seat layout for Star8’s e-trike

IMG_1350Dashboard and driver seat for the Star8 e-trike

IMG_1351Star8’s tuktuk design for the e-trike

The variety of electric vehicle models and the increase in the number of industry players is encouraging. Interest in electric vehicles have steadily increased over the past half decade. Perhaps the government should have a stronger role as catalyst or enabler for this industry to flourish and perhaps transform not only the public transport scene but also for people to adopt e-vehicles for private use. This can only be done if the proper incentives are in place that include policy, fiscal and financial instruments favoring electric vehicles as well as their hybrid relatives. These will go a long way towards a low carbon transport future for the country.

Electric vehicle models at the 5th Electric Vehicle Summit – Part 1

The 5th Electric Vehicle Summit was held last April 14-15, 2016 at the Meralco Multi-Purpose Hall. Following are photos I took at the summit where many current electric vehicle models were on display and demonstration. Many of the photos show variants of the electric tricycle designs from various manufacturers that conform with the design promoted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). These are basically in the form of the Thai tuktuk and similar to Cagayan De Oro’s motorella.

IMG_1310Go Electric e-trike by ToJo Motors

IMG_1311E-trike model by Clean Air Transport Solutions, Inc.

IMG_1314BEMAC e-trike model – the company recently landed a big contract to produce e-trikes.

IMG_1315E-trike by Kyto Green Technologies Co., Ltd.

IMG_1316Electric car (4-wheeler) by PhUV powered by Trojan batteries

IMG_1317E-trike model by Green Mobility Service

IMG_1318PhUV’s e-trike variants

IMG_1319E-trike and charging station by KEA

IMG_1320Exhibitors setting up their booths and electric vehicles

IMG_1321Conventional vehicle converted into electric by Le Guider International

IMG_1322E-trikes by Guider Power

IMG_1323Another look at PhUV’s e-trikes 

IMG_1324Electric motorcycles by Alternative Energy Trailblazer, Inc.

IMG_1325E-trike by Roteco

IMG_1326SunE-trike and Roteco booths at the summit exhibition area

IMG_1328Sporty electric motorcycle model by Talino EV – this can be paired with a sidecar to serve as an e-trike.

IMG_1329The ToJo Motors booth

IMG_1330Electric vehicles powered by solar energy by Star8

IMG_1331E-vehicle models by Clean Air Transport Solutions, Inc.

IMG_1332Latest model e-jeepney by PhUV featuring side door and a higher ceiling

To be continued…

On e-trikes again

I saw this electric tricycle while traveling along Marcos Highway in Antipolo City. There are already a number of e-trikes operating in many cities around the country including several in Metro Manila but this one seems to be the inferior to the designs I have features in previous articles in this site (Note: Refer to the post on Vehicles at the 3rd Electric Vehicle Summit for a sampling of e-trike designs). Those designs were mostly inspired by the Asian Development Bank (ADB)’s concept electric tricycle design for their project that sought to replace conventional tricycles with electric ones.

IMG_0824Antipolo e-trike along Marcos Highway

This e-trike appears to be a clumsy design and I have questions regarding its stability and operating characteristics, which have implications on road safety. Note that the e-trike in the photo above is not registered. Otherwise, it should bear an orange plate from the Land Transportation Office (LTO), which incidentally classifies e-vehicles as low-speed vehicles. This classification basically restricts most e-vehicles from traveling along national roads such as Marcos Highway. Did Antipolo secure an exception or exemption for these vehicles? Are traffic law enforcement personnel turning blind eye to the operation of these vehicles along busy highways like Marcos Highway and Sumulong Highway? How safe are these vehicle designs?

Some setbacks for sustainable transport

There have been a few setbacks for sustainable transport in the news recently and not so recently. One is the burning of an electric vehicle, a COMET to be precise, that saw one unit burn to the ground near the UP Town Center along Katipunan Avenue. I am not aware of any official or formal findings being released as to what really happened to the vehicle but that is basically a big PR problem now as detractors of e-vehicles will point to the incident as proof that e-vehicles still have a long way to becoming a viable and safe option as public utility vehicles. E-vehicles have a lot to prove especially as an option for public transport and such setbacks only strengthen the argument against them and leaves us with the current conventional options.

Another is the discontinuance of service inside the Bonifacio Global City (BGC) of hybrid buses operated by Green Frog Transport. This one is due to what Green Frog described as exorbitant fees being charged by Bonifacio Estates Services Corp (BESC) for their buses to enter BGC. This is making the rounds of social media but there seems to be no response from BESC nor from the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), which is supposed to also have a say with policies in BGC. Perhaps BESC thought it best to just give Green Frog the silent treatment for what appears as a trial by publicity approach by Green Frog. One commuter commented that maybe BGC authorities should push for their Fort Buses to be hybrid and phase out the jeepneys in favour of higher capacity transit inside BGC.

There have also been issue on road safety including many incidents of pedestrians getting run over by vehicles. Many of these have been captured on video particularly by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), which has set-up a network of cameras in many intersections along major roads. Many show vehicles Given that many cases feature jaywalking, it is still the responsibility of any motorist to exercise caution when manoeuvring, especially when turning at intersections. Drivers will always have blind sides or weak sides when they manoeuvre so they should be very careful when in doubt and not immediately proceed when it is not clear that they have a clear path. At BGC (again) one will notice that many motorists do not give way to pedestrians even when the latter are crossing at the right locations and according to the sign clearing them to cross the street. In one case involving two speeding SUVs, one lost control and hit a pregnant woman crossing the street. While a significant number of vehicles in BGC are through traffic, it is still the responsibility of BGC’s traffic enforcers to ensure motorists follow traffic rules and regulations including prioritising safety over haste. Simply attributing such safety issues to through traffic is no excuse for traffic enforcement being as lax as or par with the rest of Metro Manila, especially for a CBD that packages itself as better than the rest of Metro Manila.