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Philippines gives green light to electric tricycles

Manila - The Philippines is to roll out 100,000 electric tricycles in an effort to replace the petrol-powered ones that currently ply its cities, one of the project's financiers said on Tuesday.

The “e-trikes” would provide an alternative to the gas-guzzling, smoke-belching motorised tricycles that now ferry Manila residents through narrow streets not served by buses, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said.

Electric tricycles on parade in Manila. Credit: AFP

ADB energy specialist Sohail Hasnie said the lender hoped the e-trikes would eventually replace some of the estimated 3.5 million gas-powered motorcycles and tricycles already in use in the country.

“It will not stop at e-trike. It will expand horizontally to other transports like buses... and once that happens, nationwide, the country's consumption of oil will come down,” he said in a video message.

The $500 million project received the green-light on Tuesday but a launch date for the vehicles has not yet been set.

The e-trikes, powered by an electric motor with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, cost only $1.20 (about R10) for a daily charge compared to the $6-8 in fuel a normal tricycle burns every day, the ADB said.

There has been generally favourable reaction to a pilot project of 20 e-trikes that have been in service in one Manila district since last year, the bank said.

The ADB is lending the Philippines $300 million to acquire the vehicles.

The project will also get an $105 million in a soft loan and grant from the United Nations' Clean Technology Fund, which is administered by the ADB, the bank said. The Philippine government will provide $99 million.

The loans will also put up five solar charging stations so the e-trikes can be powered up without drawing on the electrical grid, the ADB said.

Other countries have also expressed interest in the e-trikes, said Hasnie.

The Philippines hopes to eventually become a centre for manufacturing these vehicles, he added. - Sapa-AFP

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