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 Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs