Cebu’s green revolution: 100 electric vehicles to transform city transport

GOING ELECTRIC. In January 2023, Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera shared this photo of his trip to Barcelona, Spain in August 2021 during which executives of the Aboitiz Group and Global Electric Transportation committed to donate millions of pesos to help Cebu City procure electric vehicles.(SunStar File)
GOING ELECTRIC. In January 2023, Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera shared this photo of his trip to Barcelona, Spain in August 2021 during which executives of the Aboitiz Group and Global Electric Transportation committed to donate millions of pesos to help Cebu City procure electric vehicles.(SunStar File)

TO FOSTER greener and more sustainable land transportation, the Cebu City Government plans to have 100 electric vehicles plying major roads in the city by 2024.

Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera, chairman of the committee on environment, told SunStar Cebu on Monday, Sept. 25, 2023, that by the first quarter of 2024, the city can expect to receive at least 10 e-vehicles from Global Electric Transport.

Garganera said the purchase of e-vehicles will be carried out based on the availability of units.

“This could be the first large-scale electric vehicle deployment by a local government unit (LGU) in the Philippines,” Garganera said.

Garganera said each unit costs P4.2 million, but under the special agreement with Global Electric Transport (GET), each unit can be purchased for only P3 million.

However, the City will pay only P1.5 million for each unit and the other half will be covered by the private sector, particularly the Aboitiz group.

Garganera said the City has allocated P150 million for the purchase of the e-vehicles, while businessman Endika Aboitiz pledged P50 million and the Aboitiz Foundation also donated P100 million. These contributions complete the needed amount of P300 million for the purchase of the 100 units of e-vehicles.

He said they are still finalizing the terms of agreement with other stakeholders, which he hopes will be completed before the end of this year.

He said under the tripartite agreement among the City, GET and Aboitiz Foundation, it will be GET that will operate the e-vehicle units as well as provide the necessary maintenance at no cost to the city.

Environmental impact

According to Garganera, green mobility aims to reduce a diverse set of environmental impacts primarily caused by the transport sector.

“The goal is for the transport sector to decarbonize and decrease the current level of emissions to a low-carbon scenario,” Garganera said.

He said that during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic when there were fewer vehicles moving around the city, there was a significant 72 percent drop in air pollution.

Based on an Environment Management Bureau report, he said “the air quality in Metro Cebu area improved when the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine suspended public transport and limited the number of private vehicles plying the streets, reducing the number of air pollutants significantly.”

Contributory to illnesses

Garganera said respiratory-related illnesses are caused by pollutants emitted by the moving vehicles.

He revealed that 50 to 70 percent of the air pollution in most cities is attributed to the carbon emissions from fuel-powered vehicles, noting that air pollution kills seven million people per year based on a GET report.

He added that based on the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), ground-level ozone or bad ozone can be most harmful for people living with asthma.

According to AAFA, he said, ground-level ozone is created by a chemical reaction between nitrogen oxide and organic compounds when exposed to sunlight, including emissions from industrial facilities, motor vehicles exhaust and gasoline fumes.

Low maintenance

According to Garganera, e-vehicles have low-cost maintenance compared to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles since fewer materials are involved.

He said electric-powered vehicles have only four parts, which are the charger, battery, controller and motor.

“Fuel-powered vehicles require a wide range of maintenance from frequent change of oil, filter replacement, and others unlike in electric-powered vehicles, less periodic maintenance,” Garganera said.

He said since e-vehicles do not need fuel to operate, they could save P7 million in fuel costs per year, assuming a minimum usage of 200 liters monthly for 39 units of traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.

He added that to ensure the consistency of the green and sustainable project, they will also soon purchase solar panels for the charging stations.

“I want these electric vehicles to be charged by solar (panels). (Let’s achieve) 100 percent clean energy,” Garganera said.

Electric power charging station

Garganera said that for the next two years, the supply of power electricity for e-vehicles will be provided by Visayan Electric Company for free. Visayan Electric is a distribution utility of the Aboitiz Group.

He said they will install the charging station in the vicinity of the Department of Public Services in Barangay Cogon Ramos, Cebu City.

Meanwhile, he is already coordinating with different mall managements, asking them to consider accommodating the e-vehicles and exploring the possibility of putting up charging stations in their respective areas.

“Tanan malls nato, magbutang tag electric vehicles. Kinsa may di mosugot ana nga mohatud mana’g ilang customers?” Garganera said.

(In all our malls, we will put electric vehicles. Who will not agree to that when the e-vehicles will bring them customers?)

Culture and tourism

Garganera said it pains him to note that the City promotes the various cultural heritage sites in Cebu for just one day out of the 365 days in a year due to the lack of transportation.

“Just imagine if you put up these e-vehicles every week to go around for our domestic and foreign tourist (spots), that could also boost our tourism,” he said.

To promote the city’s rich cultural heritage, he said they will use the e-vehicles to shuttle prospective tourists.

Comet e-vehicles

Garganera said the e-vehicles they plan to purchase are units from GET called Comet.

He described Comet as a world-class, zero emission, 30-passenger electric minibus which was developed by Formula E-racing engineers.

It also features a smart app-based fleet management and cashless fare collection system.

Additionally, it has real-time monitoring closed-circuit television and dedicated seats for persons with disability and pregnant women.

Garganera said the e-vehicle could be fully charged within four hours, but it also has a fast charge feature to complete charging in just a couple of minutes.

However, Garganera said electric vehicles could not withstand waist-deep floods.


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