The United States helped create the jeepneythe Philippines distinctive public-transport vehicles, modified from surplus US army jeepsand now president Obama is touting their demise. In Manila this week for a stop on his Asian tour, Obama climbed aboard a Comet, a new electronic vehicle designed to replace the 55,000 jeepneys currently clogging roads and spouting diesel exhaust in the chronically traffic- and
The Comet was designed by Vancouver, Washington-based Pangea Motors and is distributed by a US-Filipino company called Global Electric Transportation (GET). The Comets backers expect to have 3,000 to 4,000 of the next-generation jeepneys on the road by the end of the year, some of which will be manufactured in the Philippines. Pasang Masda, an association of Filipino jeepney drivers, has agreed to buy 10,000 over the next three years.
Electric vehicles for public transport havent received as much attention as personal vehicles made by companies like Tesla, but in many ways theyre an easier sell. Because public transport vehicles are heavily usedas opposed to a personal vehicle that might only be driven for an hour or two a daythe additional costs are more quickly be offset by savings on fuel. Public transport companies are also able to install their own network of charging stations, optimized for the established routes that their vehicles follow.
GET plans to create a series of stations along existing jeepney routes, allowing drivers to top-up their charge while passengers load and unload; a full charge takes about five hours, good for a range of about 80-100 kilometers (50-62 miles). Fares on the electric jeepneys will be unchanged from the current minimum of 8 Philippine pesos ($0.18). The vehicles top speed is capped at 60 kph (37 mph), which shouldnt be much of a constraint given Manilas notoriously gridlocked traffic.
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