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Government Phaseout Frenzy

Feb 7, 2024, 1:34 AM
Fernan Angeles

Fernan Angeles


WITH just a little more push before the government finally completes the controversial phaseout of the iconic traditional jeeps, prospects of easing out tricycles from the secondary streets surfaced following President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s meeting with a foreign firm known for manufacturing e-trikes.

In a meeting with top executives from VinGroup Company of Vietnam in Hanoi, President Marcos himself cited the need for the government to keep the electric vehicle market open if only to ensure full modernization of the public transportation system in the country.

"This is something Secretary Fred Pascual of DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) is working on," Marcos was quoted as saying to VinGroup corporate executives, who hinted at the idea of expanding its operation in the Philippines.

During Marcos’ two-day state visit in Vietnam, the President welcomed VinGroup's interest to expand its operations to the Philippines, specifically in the production of electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

“The Vingroup is well-known in the Philippines because we have… we are very much aligned on what we would like to do in the future…” Marcos said after his two-day state visit in Vietnam.

Easing Vietnam’s TukTuk

In August last year, VinGroup deputy chief executive officer Thanh Nguyen launched their Green Smart Mobility Bike against major regional players Grab and Gojek for a slice in the market in the e-motorcycle hailing service industry in Hanoi.

Nguyen said in a LinkedIn post that the company plans to expand its market to 27 provinces in Vietnam and three other countries in the midst of a shift from fuel-fed mobilities to electric vehicles.

To date, VinGroup’s Green SM Bike managed to deploy over 60,000 electric two-wheelers, which are on the verge of replacing the three-wheeled Tuk tuk in Vietnam.

Vulnerable PH Tricycles

Web-based Statistica Dot Com in a study claimed that the number of registered motorcycles and tricycles in the country has shown significant growth since 2020.

The same study said that there are over 7.81 million registered motorcycles and tricycles in the Philippines in 2022. Of this number roughly 1.5 million are passenger-hailing tricycles, raising fears of another phaseout – just like what the government has been doing with the traditional jeepneys.

Interestingly, Trade and Industry Secretary Pascual hinted at Vingroup's interest as consistent with the government's push to promote EV use via the public utility vehicle modernization program and the Department of Energy's e-trike project.

Competing China-Made

Aside from e-trikes, Marcos emphasized the need for the government to veer away from relying on a single supplier for modern jeepneys, adding that VinGroup's entry into the Philippines aligns with the ongoing modernization program for public utility vehicles, especially jeepneys and tricycles.

"We are in the middle of our modernization program, essentially meaning we are going to replace all our conveyances, buses, and we have a particular type of transport... jeepneys," Marcos said.

According to the Presidential Communications Office (PCO), VinGroup's subsidiary Vinfast is registering in the Philippines to explore partnerships in electric vehicle (EV) marketing, energy storage and nickel processing.

Vingroup is a multi-sector corporation, specializing in technology, industry, trade, services and social enterprise, the PCO added.

Waiting For Specs

During a meeting with Vingroup executives, led by Chairman Pham Nhat Vuong and Nguyen Viet Quang, Vice Chairman and CEO, Marcos said that the specifications for these vehicles are being finalized, while the government is actively consolidating operators and drivers into cooperatives.

Marcos earlier approved the Department of Transportation's proposal to extend the consolidation deadline for jeepneys and UV Express units, providing drivers and operators three more months to comply.

The President's decision follows a sequence of transport strikes, protests and a Supreme Court petition organized by transport groups in response to the government's initial deadline of Dec. 31, 2023 for drivers and operators to consolidate into cooperatives and corporations.

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