Emissions from the transport sector currently represent 30 percent of all pollution in the country, and approximately 80 percent of air pollution in Metro Manila. A sizeable proportion of vehicle emissions are attributable to inefficient public transport, particularly from tricycles, jeepneys and buses.
The 20 e-trikes are part of an ADB-funded project to introduce energy-efficient transportation alternatives in the Philippines. ADB is currently in discussions with the government and other development partners on a proposed project to significantly scale up the rollout of energy efficient e-trikes in Manila and other urban areas as early as 2012.
"Working together, we can give Manila cleaner air, bluer skies, and a more livable environment," said Kunio Senga, director general of ADB's Southeast Asia department. "The Philippines is assuming a leading role in Asia in supporting green transportation alternatives, and if e-trikes are followed by new fleets of electric buses and jeepneys, the effect could be transformative."
More than 3.5 million motorized tricycles are currently operating in the Philippines, producing more than 10 million tons of carbon dioxide and using close to $5 billion of imported fuel each year. Motorized tricycles - which are motorcycles with sidecars - are popularly used as low-cost public transport for short distances.
"Every 20,000 e-trikes that are introduced to Manila's streets will save the Philippines 100,000 liters of foreign fuel imports each day, saving the country about $35 million annually," said ADB's Principal Energy Specialist Sohail Hasnie. "This initiative not only benefits the environment, but it also supports the Philippines drive to become more energy independent."
Though the new e-trikes have higher up-front costs, older petrol tricycles are more than twice as expensive to operate and maintain in the long run. The cost savings will directly increase the incomes of e-trike operators.
The new ADB-supported e-trikes use lithium ion batteries, commonly used in laptop computers and mobile phones. The batteries can be recharged approximately 2,000 times, in contrast to lead acid batteries used in older e-trike models that need to be replaced every two years.
A recently concluded phase-one ADB pilot project demonstrated that the Philippines has the local manufacturing capacity and technical skills base to build and maintain a large e-trike fleet. Once thousands of e-trikes begin to be manufactured, many new jobs could be created.
Factoring in electricity required for charging the batteries, the e-trikes' carbon footprint will be less than one quarter of petroleum-fueled tricycles' carbon dioxide emissions.
As part of the pilot project, ADB will install four charging stations in Mandaluyong City, which will be able to charge the e-trike batteries to 50-percent capacity in less than 30 minutes. One of the charging stations will use solar energy.