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Driving a BYD EV all day in Metro Manila traffic costs less than a 2-piece fastfood chicken meal

Driving a BYD EV all day in Metro Manila traffic costs less than a 2-piece fastfood chicken meal

By VJ Bacungan

AC Motors Marketing Director Patrick Manigbas briefs participants of the media drive that featured eight BYD units covering 102 kilometers of mixed city and highway driving.

In the nearly 10 years that I’ve been a journalist, I’ve had the immense privilege of joining a variety of media drives.

Call it a work-sanctioned road trip – heading off to exciting destinations in brand-spanking-new cars, seeing incredible sights, and enjoying great food and entertainment, as well as occasional pampering at fabulous hotels.

But as wonderful as all this pomp and circumstance may be, the stark reality is that the brand-new cars we buy will end up in our country’s gridlocked streets, serving as our air-conditioned insulation from the urban jungle.

And that’s exactly where BYD Philippines sent our contingent of eight battery-electric vehicles (EV) on Friday – 102 kilometers of mixed city and highway driving to the absolute ends of Metro Manila, from down south in Alabang, to up north in Caloocan City.

This media drive is also historic, as it is the first sanctioned economy run of EVs in the Philippines. Each BYD vehicle had an independent adjudicator from the Automobile Association of the Philippines (AAP), which is the country’s premier auto club.

No hypermiling

I was assigned Car 1, a cream-white BYD Dolphin EV hatchback, with Inquirer Motoring lensman Tope Crisostomo as my co-driver.

Riding in the Dolphin’s spacious backseat was a very familiar face – rally legend Art Guevara was our AAP adjudicator. It brought me back to my younger years when Coach Art and the rest of the brilliant AAP team first taught me to race.

But today was not about racing. And nor was it about hypermiling our adorable EV.

We simply had to follow the route in the provided road book (a la stage rallies), with the air-conditioning set to 22 degrees Celsius and fan speed 3. Our car also had the most conservative drive settings, running the whole day in Eco mode and with standard regenerative braking, which helps recharge the battery when you lift off the throttle.

Our marching orders were to drive it like you would on a regular commute. So with the charging ports sealed and our odometers reset, we headed off in the most grueling urban commute I’ve ever had.

All the right ingredients

Not even five minutes after we left our jump-off point at Shell Bonifacio Global City (BGC), we already encountered our first traffic jam at the Buendia flyover heading into neighboring Makati City.

As we sat at a dead standstill, we all took note of the Dolphin’s very attractive and plush interior. The mix of white leather, groovy circular shapes and diamond-quilted patterns all made for a truly premium subcompact hatchback.

But it was the complete lack of noise and vibration that really stood out – silence truly does speak volumes. And in this case, it spoke of how EV mobility provides a truly serene experience, even in the worst gridlock.

Threading our way through Makati, we got onto the Skyway, where we were limited to 80 km/h by the test. Even on the open road, the Dolphin felt fully secure (unlike the dinky EV hatchbacks of yore), with truly startling acceleration that most subcompact cars in the Dolphin’s class could only dream of.

We exit down to the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and head into the Manila-Cavite Expressway (MCX) that borders Filinvest Alabang, then make our first stop at Unioil.

The ultimate urban runabout

After a few minutes to regroup, we headed back onto MCX and SLEX, then climbed up onto the Skyway for our second leg through Manila.

We got to experience how BYD’s baby handled the pockmarked roads of our nation’s capital, complete with gridlock in various parts of the route.

From Taft Avenue all the way to Carriedo, the Dolphin absorbed the bumps with aplomb. But for a better ride, I would have lowered the tire pressures from the 36 psi that the AAP required for this test.

Upon reaching Monumento, which is a towering vestige at the border of Caloocan City and Malabon, we headed back north towards our next stop, Shell Balintawak.

After the regroup, we took the whole of EDSA to get to the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City. The Dolphin’s small size, light steering and easy-to-modulate brakes made tight lane changes a breeze, even amid all the jeepneys, buses and trucks that we encountered.

From the Mall of Asia area, we headed onto Macapagal Boulevard for a brief respite, before diving into the slow-moving traffic on EDSA to get to Ayala Avenue. From Makati, we went up the Buendia flyover back to Shell BGC.

The EV future

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As the BYD Philippines team crunched the numbers from our epic Metro Manila road trip, I reflected on how electrified vehicles have raised the bar in what we should expect from a car.

From the simplicity of maintenance to the sheer performance, EVs are objectively better than any of their internal-combustion engine (ICE) counterparts.

BYD, in particular, in China’s leading EV manufacturer, going toe-to-toe with Elon Musk’s Tesla for global domination. The American carmaker was ahead with 1.8 million sales in 2023, with BYD close behind with 1.57 million EVs sold.

These figures are expected to go up worldwide, especially in the Philippines. The Comprehensive Roadmap for the Electric Vehicle Industry is expecting local EV sales to reach at least 311,700 units by the end of 2028.

These figures are expected to swell at least 852,100 EV sales by the end of 2040, which is also the year that the government has targeted to ban the sale of brand-new ICE vehicles.

Eye-catching numbers

In fact, BYD Philippines went the extra mile with this economy run by testing a variety of ICE vehicles.

Those drivers were also under the supervision of the AAP and took the same route.

And when the numbers were done, the BYD Dolphin only cost P193.45 to cover 100 kilometers. Meanwhile, the highly popular subcompact ICE sedan that was tested cost more than triple that amount at P677.46 for the same distance.

Assuming you drive 100 km a month, that equates to P1,936.04 in savings against ever-increasing fuel prices or P116,162.60 over the course of five years. And because EVs are much simpler to maintain than ICE vehicles, BYD Philippines predicts an additional P48,848.58 savings in maintenance costs over five years.

Put another way, my daylong commute with the Dolphin costs less than the last two-piece chicken meal that I ordered at a popular fastfood chain. Now just imagine the savings over an entire year, with most drivers averaging 10,000 kilometers.

Really makes you think, no?