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Future fare collection for jeepneys and other modes?

In the last Electric Vehicle Summit held in late February this year, I noticed a conspicuous device installed in the electric jeepney unit that was on display at the venue. The device is for electronic payment of fares; using a card much like the ones being used in other countries like Singapore and Japan, and soon, hopefully, for the LRT and MRT in Metro Manila. Such a capability has a lot of potential including a very convenient way to pay fares for public transport in Metro Manila. Other potential uses would be for payments of items bought at stores or shops (or vending machines) like Japan’s Suica card. Users would just have to “top up” or load their cards for these to be used in their commutes or purchases.

2014-02-28 09.09.26The latest e-jeepney model features a side door instead of one at the rear.

2014-02-28 12.30.07Boarding passengers will encounter device upon entering the vehicle. The current technology available should soon enable passengers to use “tap” cards to pay for their fares.

2014-02-28 12.30.13Such a device will leas to a more efficient fare collection and eliminate the need for “conductors” or persons assisting the driver in taking passengers’ fares. These should also allow the driver to focus on driving rather than be distracted by fare collection including trying to keep track of who has paid and who has change due. This would likely translate into safer travel for most people.

2014-02-28 12.30.33Electronic boards at the top behind the driver can provide travel information such as the next stop or traffic conditions along the transit route. Such information can be derived from various sources including the MMDA or local governments as well as from crowd-sourcing. 

Vehicles at the 3rd Electric Vehicle Summit

The 3rd Electric Vehicle Summit was held last February 27-28, 2014. It was hosted by Meralco and featured presentations and discussion on the many issues regarding electric vehicle promotion and deployment in the Philippines. Outside the venue of the more formal presentations was an exhibit of the various electric vehicles that are currently available and being promoted by various proponents and companies. These include 2, 3 and 4-wheelers that can be used for either private or public transport.

I observed that there are definitely a lot of improvements since the last exhibition in the previous EV Summit in 2012. Vehicle designs have evolved and for the better. Local manufacturers or companies have partnered with foreign companies who have more experience in EVs so its a good thing. They will definitely learn a lot from their partners and we cannot over-emphasize the importance of technology transfer particularly in areas or aspects where local manufacturers are weak like the controller and the motor.

2014-02-28 09.01.223-wheeler tuktuk design

2014-02-28 09.01.34The COMET, which is being proposed as a replacement for the conventional jeepneys.

2014-02-28 09.01.53More 3-wheelers and an electric car from the same company that brought us the EVs at Bonifacio Global City that are nearing extinction.

2014-02-28 09.03.00Electric mini car

2014-02-28 09.03.17Traditional design of tricycle – electric motorcycle with side car

2014-02-28 09.04.38Electric motorcycle with a more sporty design

2014-02-28 09.04.49Same model electric motorcycle fitted with a conventional sidecar

2014-02-28 09.08.31Another tuktuk design 3-wheeler – this one looks very much like the EVs in operation at BGC in Taguig.

2014-02-28 09.09.04Many companies were supposed to have submitted bids to the DOE-ADB initiative to push for electric tricycles. There are still no assurances whether these e-trikes will replace conventional ones currently dominating transport in many cities and municipalities around the country.

2014-02-28 09.09.13Another electric 4-wheeler. These still look more like glamorized golf carts than the sleek electric cars currently in the market that includes the popular but expensive Tesla.

2014-02-28 09.09.26The newest model of the e-jeepney from PhUV, the first to manufacture local electric jeepneys including the models now running in Makati, Pasig and Quezon City. I learned that they have partnered with TECO, a Taiwanese company that has extensive experience in EVs. Notice the passenger door is already at the right side of the vehicle instead of the rear.

2014-02-28 09.09.40Participants to the EV summit tried out the different EVs on display and for demo rides. The latest model e-jeepney was quite popular especially to foreign participants.

2014-02-28 09.05.493-wheeler and mini-bus designs from KEA Industrial

2014-02-28 09.06.02Charging station developed by the same company – I think they’re trying to appeal to the “tingi” mentality of Filipinos by indicating PhP 10/15 minutes of charge.

2014-02-28 09.08.02Perhaps one of if not the best e-trike that was on display was this model by Japanese manufacturers. They were supposed to have been selected by DOE and ADB for the first phase of the e-trike project that will see the deployment of 5,000+ e-trikes in different Philippine cities.

2014-02-28 09.08.14Mitsubishi featured its elective Outlander, which, I observed, got more attention from the well-heeled participants. Students on field trips for the exhibit were not into this example of the more refined EV models.

2014-02-28 09.08.21Another tuktuk 3-wheeler design from Prozza. I don’t really remember all the participating exhibitors but most of them bid for the e-trike project of the DOE-ADB.

2014-02-28 09.08.31The same 6-seater e-trike from Prozza in green body color.

I would defer from a quick assessment of these EVs to another post. For now, I  just like to show the models that were shown in the recent summit. Suffice it to say that I have high hopes for EVs in the Philippines but then we need to really look into the context for these vehicles as well as the sustainability given the challenges of power generation for many areas in the country.

Harbinger of change for public transport?

Comets have been viewed as signs, omens or harbingers of something that will happen. I like the word “harbinger” more than “omen.” It brings about a certain mystery to it that does not necessarily imply something bad or evil. In this case, the comet is a vehicle and “Comet” stands for City Optimized Managed Electric Transport, an electric jitney that is being touted as a replacement for the ubiquitous jeepney that has evolved from its WW2 ancestor. It does have the potential of being a game changer if there is an enabling environment for it and if (a big “if”) it addresses fundamental issues with electric vehicles such as those that are technical (battery life, range, speed, etc.), pertaining to after sales (maintenance, technical support) and operational (suitable routes, fares, charging stations, etc.).

[All photos taken by Engr. Sheila Javier of the National Center for Transportation Studies]

comet1Prototype Comet at the NCTS parking lot – notice that it is larger than the AUV on the other side of the vehicle. The Comet will utilize a tap card for fares, similar to the card that is proposed for use in the Automated Fare Collection System for the LRT/MRT system.

comet2Inside the vehicle, one immediately gets a feeling of space. In fact, a person can stand inside the vehicle unlike the case of jeepneys where people need to bend so as not to bump their heads at the ceiling.

comet3The vehicle has a side entrance and exit unlike the rear doors of typical jeepneys.

comet4The Comet looks like a mini-bus from behind. Proponents have stated that drivers will be trained for road safety as well as operations for designated stops and scheduled services.

The Comet is being touted as a replacement for the jeepney and is being promoted via an initial route that would connect SM Megamall in Ortigas Center, Pasig City to SM City North EDSA in Quezon City. The route will be counter-clockwise from SM Megamall to SM North EDSA via Circumferential Road 5 including E. Rodriguez Avenue and Katipunan Avenue, UP Diliman, Commonwealth Avenue, Elliptical Road and North Avenue. From SM North to SM Megamall, it will take EDSA. While I am not sure if the Comet has been granted a franchise and how many units they can deploy, this proposed route will overlap with existing jeepney and bus routes including direct competition with UP-Katipunan and UP-North EDSA routes, and buses plying routes that cover the stretch from North EDSA to Ortigas Center. I think that this route is mainly for publicity considering there are probably other, more suitable routes for the Comet. It has not been subject to rigorous tests (just like the e-jeepneys before it), which is not a good thing, considering the experiences of the e-tricycle in Taguig and the e-jeepneys in Makati. Hopefully, they have learned the lessons from these past efforts and that they already have the answers hounding EVs as applied to public transport.