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Environment-friendly jeeps debut in Makati

July 4, 2007 8:57am

(Updated 2:18 p.m.) Passenger jeeps will finally join the battle to lessen air pollution instead of adding to it, following the debut Wednesday of electric jeepneys (e-jeeps) in Makati City.

Environment protection groups joined the e-jeep launch, while Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay was invited to personally drive one of the two vehicles that were presented to the riding public in his city.

Each e-jeep is flat-nosed and can accommodate up to 17 passengers at a time. One of the jeeps at Wednesday's Makati City presentation was pink, with several decorations.

Conventional jeepneys have gained notoriety as smoke belchers, since most of their engines are usually reconditioned surplus parts.

Solar Electric Co. (Solarco), the distributor of the vehicles, expects the e-jeeps to serve as mobile billboards promoting a cleaner environment.

Solarco is part of Green Renewable Independent Power Producer Inc. (GRIPP), a network of environmental groups including Greenpeace, business firms and local government units.

"The electric jeepneys demonstrate how cities can help mitigate the problem of climate change. Given the urgency of the need to address this global threat, it is encouraging to see pioneering ... measures that would avoid the use of climate change-inducing fossil fuels," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Campaigns Director Von Hernandez.

Each e-jeep costs P550,000, and is equipped with five-horsepower engines running solely on electricity. An eight-hour charge can cover 120 kilometers each day at a maximum of 40 kph.

Solarco officials said a daily electric charge of an e-jeep's batteries would cost around P150, way below than the daily gasoline expense from P800 to P1,000 of passenger jeeps.

For his part, Binay was looking forward to seeing e-jeepneys ply the streets of Makati, the country's business center.

"It is clear that, in addressing solid waste and air pollution issues, and in offering a much
cheaper fuel alternative to jeepney drivers who service the city's main routes, the project will result in clear, tangible benefits for Makati citizens," Binay said.

In a statement, Greenpeace said more e-jeeps are planned for production, while key areas Negros Occidental are targeted as other sites to showcase the vehicle.

"They will undergo technical and commercial tests for 6 months in Makati City and eventually in key areas in the province of Negros Occidental. The electric fleet will be increased to 50 units upon the successful conclusion of the test phase," Greenpeace said.

It added that Makati has agreed to provide a facility that will generate power from the biodegradable wastes from the city's food establishments and wet markets into which the electric jeepneys are meant to be plugged. - GMANews.TV
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