In the last few weeks motorists have been lining up to have Easytrip and/or Autosweep RFID tags fitted to their vehicles at toll gates and off-site venues such as gasoline service stations. This is being done in order to meet the government's order to phase out cash lanes at expressways; a deadline that was originally set for today, November 2, but has been pushed back to December 1.
While there is the huge demand for the RFID tags to gain cashless access to the expressways of the two major concessionaires, Metro Pacific (Easytrip - NLEX, SCTEX, CAVITEX, CALAX, C5-Link, NLEX Harbor Link) and San Miguel Corporation (Autosweep – SLEX, Skyway, STAR Tollway, TPLEX, NAIAX), there is one question that needs answering: what about those that need RFID after December 1?
We contacted representatives from both Easytrip and Autosweep, and we were informed that they will continue to sustain their RFID installation at certain sites for motorists that need the tags.
“We will make sure na may available na installation sites outside the carriageway na pwede silang magpa-install if they need to have one after Dec. 1,” said Nelly Argota, Head of RFID Operations for SMC Infrastructure Tollways.
Argota urged motorists not to worry, which is the same for Easytrip which informed us that installation operations will only be scaled back once they are are satisfied with the number of vehicles with the tags and queues start to subside.
“We'll be able to see the penetration rate,” said Jay Calma from Easytrip's Account Management Division and Business Development. “If it's closer to 100%, we can start to scale down. It'll be more after sales.”
There is another question that needed an answer: What about brand new cars sold after December 1?
Of course a motorist can bring his or her newly-released car to an RFID tent or site as installation operations will continue, but it seems that may not be necessary in the near future if all goes according to the plans of the two RFID providers. That's because both Autosweep and Easytrip are planning to partner up with car dealerships in order to have RFID tags fitted with every brand new car that is released to customers. Actually, they already have some programs in place, as SMC's Nelly Argota explains.
“Yes we have that already but as of now po kasi nag prioritize lang tayo ng mga companies, villages, toll gates and gas stations kasi ito users na talaga. After this we will resume the partnerships. Minsan kasi nasa warehouse pa lang nalalagayan na namin ng stickers. We will do this after the implementation para sure na lang may stickers na,” said Argota.
We won't be surprised if all new BMWs start to leave showrooms with RFID tags because, like Autosweep, BMW's Philippine distributor is part of San Miguel Corporation. But since all motorists that want to use an expressway will need RFID, they'll be expanding their efforts to partner with other automotive brands.
Easytrip, however, has already started doing so as early as last year. As Jay Calma of Easytrip Services Corporation shares, their first was the distributor of Peugeot, and so every model that departs their showroom should have Easytrip RFID fitted. But it wasn't easy for larger automakers.
“We talked to the Toyota head office, but it took a while. There are many layers in a big corporation. So we shifted strategy to focus on smaller automakers. We ended up with Peugeot,” said Calma. “We have been in partnership with them for a year or so. So all cars that leave their dealerships have an Easytrip tag”
While it's good to have partnerships with distributors such as Peugeot and BMW, it's important for Easytrip and Autosweep to speak to the volume brands. If they can strike up solid partnerships to have RFID installed on all the new models released by the top volume automobile brands in the Philippines, that would be significant.
“We are continuing talks with Toyota, but with dealerships and not the main office. They're more reactive,” said Easytrip's Jay Calma. “We're also having more progress Geely.”
“We also shifted to the owners of the dealers such as Laus Group. We sent people there. The end plan is that we teach employees to install tags so all the cars they sell have tags already.” continued Calma.
Hopefully both Easytrip and Autosweep can be successful with these plans to have RFID installed on all newly-sold automobiles. In 2019 Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Hyundai, and Suzuki accounted for 78.23% of all new vehicles. If they can do this for those 5 major brands, they can make 3 out of every 4 brand new vehicles sold RFID-ready.