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Long live the new king (of the road)!

Long live the new king (of the road)!

Tessa R. Salazar

Centro revives classic jeepney look at PIMS 2022

Not everything must need to look and feel like the “new normal”, at least for Pinoy commuters who miss the classic jeepney look.

We have to admit, something sentimental and deeply Pinoy was lost when local assemblers came out with their own versions of the “modernized jeepney” to comply with the government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) that sought to bring the local commuting ecosystem up to par with world standards in vehicle emissions, passenger comfort and safety. The modernizing process effectively turned its back on our people’s colorful history with the jeep—which started immediately after World War 2 when the numerous Willys military jeeps that were left behind by American forces were converted by enterprising and creative Pinoys into public conveyances. The “auto calesa”—as it was initially called—featured extended benches at the rear, and as the jeepney grew in length through the years, so did the accessories and décor that spoke more of the personal tastes of its driver or operator.

The current crop of modern PUVs have, indeed, fallen far from the proverbial family tree. There are virtually no traces left of the classic jeepney. They’ve been relegated among the ranks of the merely utilitarian. You won’t see any tourist snapping FB or IG-worthy photos of these mini-buses that try to pass themselves off as “modernized jeepneys”. It’s like a king foregoing his royal wardrobe in favor of the drab office attire.

We have to ask ourselves, then: Why can’t a modernized PUV retain the look of the classic jeepney, while passenger comfort, safety and vehicle emissions standards set by the PUVMP be integrated?

That’s what prominent truck body builder Centro Manufacturing Corp is trying to achieve in its concept vehicle, the “Hari ng Kalsada Modern PUV”, which will be on display at the Biyaheng Centro booth of the Philippine International Motor Show (PIMS) 2022 at the World Trade Center from tomorrow up to Sept 18.

The Biyaheng Centro booth will showcase the modern PUV design that embodies the spirit of the Pinoy Jeepney during its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s. Centro’s version of a modern PUV is essentially a fusion of the old and the new. From the graphics, colors, to the iconic egg fenders and the horses, the design captures the elements that have made the Pinoy “King of the Road” a true icon, and an endearing backbone of the country’s mass transport system.

The PUVMP has spurred the development of the modern PUV based on guidelines and standards issued by the government. With this, Centro has come out with a brand-new modern PUV using a light truck platform, yet without a hood (apparently for its creative owners or operators to “supply”). Like most modern PUVs, Centro’s version is already airconditioned, with a gross vehicle weight of 5,000 kg that’s enough to take in 23 passengers or more. Its seats, legroom, head clearances, aisles, doors and windows are spacious and compliant to international standards.

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According to Centro, the biggest advantages of its modern PUVs is its safety, economy, convenience, spaciousness, and comfort. Plus, it’s made even easier to acquire via “affordable financing available through the Development Bank of the Philippines and Landbank with a government subsidy of P160,000 to cover the 5% down payment.”

Centro even hints that the PUVMP is expected to be accelerated with the expansion of the financing program to include commercial banks, and the increase in government subsidy to up to P360,000.

Centro claimed that it has been at the forefront of modern PUV development, as it has supported the PUVMP from the get go, developing modern PUV bodies for almost all light truck platforms locally available. With Centro’s concept vehicle bringing together the best of the old and the new, the “Hari ng Kalsada” can strut its regalia once more.