Beyond financial incentives for vehicle makers, the government should provide purchase subsidies and tax cuts to buyers of e-vehicles to boost product appetite and encourage drivers to make the switch, industry leaders have said.
Engineering Prof. Jose Bienvenido M. Biona of the De La Salle University argued the government should pull out all the stops in adopting e-vehicles in the Philippines. He said in an industry briefing that incentives should be made available for e-vehicle buyers to encourage more purchases.
Biona cited the strategies of the South Korean, Chinese and Indian governments, who introduced purchase subsidies, tax cuts, among other incentives, in attracting drivers to switch to e-vehicles.
Further, Biona said in May that South Korea, China and India rolled out policies on e-vehicles to reduce carbon emission, cut down energy imports, as well as generate livelihood opportunities in battery production and car parts assembly. The Philippines is also apparently lagging behind the ambitions of Southeast Asian competitors Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.
According to Biona, Indonesia is targeting to manufacture 2.1 million e-motorcycles and 2,200 e-vehicles by 2025.
Thailand is eyeing to get 1.2 million e-vehicles plying its roads by 2036, while Malaysia is looking to host 100,000 e-vehicles, 100,000 e-motorcycles and 2,000 e-buses by 2030. As for the Philippines, the government intends to modernize some 200,000 public utility vehicles by 2024.
Biona also put forward the need to develop lead cities, where the government can introduce e-vehicles as the main mode of transportation.
The academic suggested Boracay to be the lead area, as the government can promote to tourists the use of e-vehicles. In doing so, he argued a comprehensive framework should be crafted to ensure all government efforts for the promotion of e-vehicles are aligned.
In an interview with reporters on Wednesday, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said he is studying the option of providing financial assistance to vehicle assemblers who will do local production of e-vehicles.
"That is part of what we are assessing right now because it will require budget. We mentioned that when we met with the e-vehicle industry in South Korea," Lopez said.
"Industry players said what we are offering right now are not enough because what they do in other countries is they really provide income tax holidays, among other incentives, to e-vehicle makers," he added.
Lopez said the government might craft an e-vehicle project a la Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy program. If implemented, manufacturers who will choose to assemble e-vehicles in the country will receive fiscal support for every unit enrolled and volume produced.
In a separate interview, Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. Vice President for Corporate Public Relations Renato S. Lampano said the automotive industry is hoping legislators of the 18th Congress will approve a measure reducing tariff and excise taxes on e-vehicles.
"We have been asking that, but I think we have to course through channel. Unfortunately, there is a new Congress, but we want lawmakers who are proponents of certain bills [on e-vehicles] to refile their bills," Lampano said.
"We believe we need to have a champion from Senate and Congress who would really be supporting this type of vehicle," he added.