A car crept up on me the other day. More accurately, it was a van, a bright yellow and green delivery van. It didn’t make a sound. It turns out it was a fully electric DHL delivery van, supplied by BYD, the vehicle company that takes its initials from the words “build your dream”. It was quite fun to watch as the one-person team quietly made a few deliveries.
In speaking with the driver, we found that they seem to have quite a bit of pride in their being the first to use this new type of vehicle so widely in the Philippines. The DHL driver took the time to explain how easy it was to drive, “just like a smooth automatic,” he explained. In reality fully electric cars rarely have shifting gearboxes. So it was really just the usual smoothness and efficiency benefits of an electric motor system. The drivers are trained at the new facility of BYD.
It seems that range anxiety and charging issues for them are actually non-issues. They just pick it up in the morning and return it when they’re done. The van was a brand new vehicle so everything was crisp and clean. The driver was proud to show off the ports for charging and so on. He also pointed out that the car was running the air conditioner the whole time, as it always does, which makes it much more comfortable for him. This is much appreciated even by those who aren’t driving the car, when you realize that so many diesel vehicles still leave the engine running just for the air conditioning.
We spoke with the Philippine BYD head, Solar Transport Corp. Managing Director Mark Tieng, about seeing his vehicles on the road. He explained that many companies in such situations are finding the value in going fully electric. In the case of DHL since they return to the same place every night it makes charging systematic and accessible. Other BYD products that are full electrics include forklifts which are also taken up quite well by the industry, although they are not as visible, of course. BYD is actually at the forefront of electric vehicle technology, which is no surprise because it is a Chinese company and China companies get support from infrastructure and government, even though BYD itself is an entrepreneurial company as opposed to a state-funded one.
One of the advantages of having an electric vehicle for delivery is that there is a lot more space and flexibility for cargo or people that can be adjusted and used. Additionally, new technologies for batteries that BYD is bringing in to the market will allow more space saving and structurally supported layouts. Advantages of weight and usability of space will become even more evident soon, especially in road cars.
An interesting thing to note is that for many of these large multinational companies the decision to go with an electric fleet has as much to do with their vision of where the future should be, as it does with the efficiencies and economics of using electrical power as opposed to fluctuating fuel prices.
One of the earlier road vehicle adopters of BYD was the power company Meralco, but of course there are obvious advantages for an electric company to use electric cars. The fact that a private delivery company like DHL, whose trucks should be in constant use, has taken this step is indicative of the fact that the future is already being adopted by the mainstream.
Nowadays during the pandemic, deliveries are a point of excitement for many households, almost like Mail Call in the old movies. It is a nice thing to see these big yellow and green vans pull up so quietly and cleanly in your neighborhood.
IN PHOTO: From left, DHL Operations Director Promod George; DHL Express Philippines Country Manager Nigel Lockett; Solar Transport Corp. Managing Director Mark Andrew Tieng; and Solar Transport Corp. Sales Manager Jet Milan