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EVs and a greener future: A comparison between Hong Kong and Philippines

Hong Kong: a prime gateway of business and development in the East, alongside the advanced cities the likes of Tokyo and Singapore, is also fast becoming a new home for the 21st century’s most novel wave of innovation in the automotive industry: electric vehicles.

That, or at least according to Elon Musk, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla Motors. The visionary has touted the city as a “beacon city” for electric vehicles, as he observed the state of affairs for the up-and-coming “electric movement” during his visit to China early this year. Legislators have approved of a tax waiver for electric vehicles (EVs) to last until the first quarter of 2017, easing up opportunities for more people to consider switching to Tesla and other EV brands.

In light of this, Tesla is also expected to expand its Supercharger network in the region to support the growing demand for EVs, in which the best-selling model is the Tesla S. It’s easy to see how quickly they’ve seen a window of opportunity in adopting alternative car systems.

tesla supercharger station

In the past decade, Hong Kong has also launched initiatives promoting development and encouraging trials of green-tech and low-carbon transport technologies, with programs such as the Pilot Green Transport Fund. The program was funded by the city government in order to reduce the heavy carbon footprint, mainly blamed on road vehicles accounting to about 17% of local greenhouse gas emissions.

Musk also predicts that Hong Kong will be the starting point of expansion for the adoption of EVs in the region, leading to a complex problem-solving maze for EV enthusiasts. The company has yet to improve the number of quick-service chargers in the city, which as of recent is still a dismal 157, with medium chargers around 200. Groups like Charged Hong Kong are lobbying with government officials and related agencies to usher in more improvements to the EV infrastructure and policy in the region.

On the other hand, the Philippines suffers a great setback even with its improving economy. In contrast to Hong Kong’s legislations few, if any, developments can be seen in the law side of things in the other side of the sea. Fortunately, the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) has taken strides to encourage development, signing up local vehicle maker Tojo Motors Corp. in January of this year, with funding through their Green Financing Program.

green loan Development Bank of the Philippines

How it would fare in creating e-vehicles though, is another matter. The company currently makes only light transport vehicles, most of which have not even seen formal tests or endorsed by reputable distribution centers. But there is hope, the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (EVAP) said, now with the initial support from DBP, and more recently the Board of Investments (BOI). But will that be enough?

The Philippines is also lacking a lot in infrastructure, and other important (things) for the adoption of EVs. The country is a signatory of The Paris Protocol convened just the previous year, and yet there are no signs of solid, forward-thinking implementations to introduce EVs for mainstream use. Power supply is shaky outside of Metro Manila, even in other major cities like Davao, which means that charging facilities will require more than the average amount of investment. That will change, hopefully, should the incoming administration shift its perspective on motoring especially for Metro Manila, which as we all know is plagued with not just traffic problems, but also very high emission rates.

Several keystone policies are already in place, such as Executive Order 488, which modifies the rates of import duty for parts and other related material for EVs and hybrid cars to zero rate, as well as standards set by the government, leaving only a strong push factor by Congress to finally boost EV adoption.

The two regions are a stark contrast to one another, in terms of both perspective and undertaking when it comes to the green shift, similar to how different Europe is to the rest of the world. Positively, the world will gradually make the choice to adopt greener transport tech for a greener future, as Elon Musk says of Hong Kong; on another hand the abysmally slow but getting-there approach of the Philippines.