News / Asia

Electronic Tricycles Aim to Reduce Pollution in Philippines

The Philippines will build an electric vehicle industry using a $300 million ADB loan, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 260,000 tons and doubling incomes for tricycle drivers. (Courtesy - Asian Development Bank)
The Philippines will build an electric vehicle industry using a $300 million ADB loan, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 260,000 tons and doubling incomes for tricycle drivers. (Courtesy - Asian Development Bank)
Simone Orendain
In the Philippines, the Asian Development Bank has finalized a $300-million loan to partially fund a nationwide electronic vehicle program that will be part of the mass transportation system.  The goal is to have 100,000 electronic tricycles plying the country’s streets by 2017 in hopes of making a dent in significant pollution caused by regular tricycles.

The tricycles are ubiquitous, gas-burning motorcycles with two-seater sidecars.  Getting the actual electronic tricycles on the ground is taking some time.

View Related Photo Gallery

Alfredo Forelo turns a key and starts the electronic tricycle- or e-trike.  There is no distinct sound of an engine firing up, just lots of noise from passing motorcycles and other vehicles.

Forelo tells Charlie Antiga, an engineer with the Mandaluyong City government, that this e-trike has one hour’s worth of recharging.  This means it will be good to run for the next five or six hours.  

Forelo pays $1.25 to charge the e-trike.  That is significantly less than the $3-$4 he used to spend on gasoline daily driving a conventional tricycle.

He says he saves enough to pay for food, water and electricity

Tricycle drivers typically lease their vehicles for about $4 a day from operators. In Forelo’s case, Mandaluyong City is leasing out his trike.  After paying the lease- and recharging fees, he says he earns about $17 a day driving an e-trike.  That is more than double the average daily earning of a conventional tricycle driver.  

With the motorcycle in front, acting as a towing vehicle for two rows of four-seater benches behind, all under a lightweight yellow shell, the e-trike easily has an advantage on a regular tricycle.  Those only seat two, and the driver is only partially shaded from sun and rain.

Mandaluyong, in Manila’s capital region, hired Forelo to drive the e-trike as part of a pilot program.  He drives one of the 13 still-functioning e-trikes of the city’s small fleet of 20.  

Mandaluyong Tricycle Regulation Office Director Florante de Leon says the Asian Development Bank picked this municipality to test the prototypes because of its commitment to clean-air practices.  He says the city will eventually offer a lease-to-own program on the e-trikes, which run about $5,000, as opposed to $3,000 for a regular one.

“There are many applicants here… they want to reserve a unit… because our mayor ordered 400 units of this in the future,” he said.

But De Leon says, judging from the long wait on the repair of some sidelined e-trikes, there is just a 50-50 chance the 400 will come any time soon.  

Asia Development Bank Principal Energy Specialist Sohail Hasnie says no company in the world has e-trikes ready to order.

“When you just say that ‘I want to buy,' in a public bidding process, a transparent process, 5,000 trikes from a factory that doesn’t exist today, specification that doesn’t exist today, design that doesn’t exist today, it takes a lot of time to put those things together,” Hasnie said.

According to De Leon, waiting for parts is also taking time.  The prototypes were assembled in the Philippines and their main components; the motor, lithium-ion battery and controller, were imported.  Officials say the country still does not have the capacity to make those technology-based parts.  In Mandaluyong, controllers of seven test e-trikes malfunctioned in March, rendering them useless.  

“We cannot repair it.  They are now here in the garage, we cannot replace the controller,” he said.

The bank is seeking a combination of car manufacturer, lithium-ion battery maker and motorcycle maker to come up with an e-trike model that suits its requirements.  According to Hasnie, after the experience in Mandaluyong the makers of parts must fully guarantee their replacement.  And, all parts must be up to the bank’s tough standards so that they function properly for several years.

The $500 million project, funded by the ADB, the World Bank’s Clean Technology Fund and the Philippine government, is now being bid out.  Hasnie says, once the order for the first 2,000 arrives in the Philippines, the rest will come more quickly.

You May Like

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs