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As the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (eVAP) wound up its three-day virtual summit last Sept. 26, one key takeaway became apparent: The technology is already here, but the law still isn’t.

And that’s what may very well be stopping the local EV industry from achieving full acceleration.

“With the advent of technology, promotion is easy, but without regulations it’s an uphill climb,” quipped Edmund Araga, eVAP president, when asked by Inquirer Motoring on the status of EV advocacy in the country.

Araga lamented that “the obstacle is still on the approval of Bill no. 1382 of Energy Committee Chairperson Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian. Regulations are the key to scale up EV charging stations.” Caraga then showed the list of the 73 EV charging stations in the Philippines.

The Electric Vehicles and Charging Station Act, or Senate Bill 1382, is seen to help reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and foster greater energy independence. The Act has been estimated to help reduce the local automobile industry’s oil consumption by as much as 146.56 million barrels and save $9.8 billion (P497 billion) per year. Gatchalian’s proposed bill would require private and public establishments, as well as fuel stations, to allot slots for EV charging stations. It would also mandate companies, public transport operators, and government agencies to maintain at least 5 percent of their fleets as EVs.

The eVAP hosted the three-day Philippine Electric Vehicle Virtual Summit (PEVVS) with the theme “Moving forward to an electrified mobility in the new normal”, and focused on EV adoption and the challenges and opportunities brought about by the CoViD-19 pandemic on both the supply and demand side of the market.

Virtual sessions included “2020 Long-Term Electric Vehicle Outlook”; “Developing Public Charging Infrastructure in Response to the New Normal”; “Challenges to EV Charging in Southeast Asia”; “Recovery, Reopening and Role of EVs under the New Normal”; “Policy Measures to See More EVs on the Ground Post Pandemic”; “Promotion of Low Carbon Urban Transport in the Philippines”, and; “Policy Dialogue with LTO: Revisiting EV Guidelines”.

eVAP partnered with Olern, a leading training and consulting company specializing in eLearning platforms, to stage the event. Key partners included Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp and Nissan Philippines Inc, PMFTC Unsmoke, Department of Transportation, United Nations Development Programme, Department of Energy, and eSakay.

eVAP also celebrated a decade of partnership with Manila Electric Company (Meralco). The first Philippine EV Summit was staged inside the Meralco compound in 2010.

Government officials who graced the virtual event were Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi, Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade, and Senator Gatchalian. Leaders of EV associations from Europe and United States joined their Asian counterparts from China, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand in the discussions.

Meralco Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer Raymond Ravelo said: “As we recover safely from Covid-19 and gradually reopen our businesses along the way, the pandemic is shedding light on questions and concerns about road infrastructure, urban transport, and mobility in general. Our collective overdependence on fossil fuels has been a major challenge to carving out more public policy space for transportation options and ultimately to improving and cleaning up our urban air. But now, as we have all been forced to change our behaviors so radically, we have a distinctive opportunity to adopt new behaviors as we slowly get back to what will hopefully be a better normal.

“Instead of writing off this year and postponing the summit due to the pandemic, we decided to push forward and continue the conversation on electrified mobility with industry stakeholders, policy makers, regulators, the academe, and consumers so we can collectively shape our better normal.”

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