While most countries have improved their electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure exponentially over the past few years, the same cannot be said locally. Given that there have been improvements, the EV infrastructure here is still limited. For example, there are only a handful of charging stations located all over the country and are a good distance from each other. However, that could all soon change and local EV infrastructure could soon get a much needed boost with the filing of a new Senate Bill.

Senator Sherwin 'Win' Gatchalian recently filed Senate Bill No. 2137 directing the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop an 'electric vehicle roadmap' which would promote the use of electric vehicles and 'further accelerate the electrification of transportation'. Should the bill be passed, Gatchalian says that it will help address the challenges of owning an electric vehicle in the country.

In the bill, it states that both public and private buildings and establishments will be required to have dedicated parking slots with charging stations for EVs. It further states that no permits will be issued for the construction or renovation of a establishment unless the owner shows proof that there are dedicated parking spaces for EVs along with charging stations.

Fuel stations will also be mandated to have a designated space for charging stations. According to the bill, fuel stations will not be issued a certificate of compliance by the DOE unless the owner shows proof that there is space for the construction of charging stations within the establishment.

New Senate Bill could address lack of EV infrastructure in the country image

"Notwithstanding the contribution of electric vehicles to energy security, sustainability and savings, barriers still remain for the development of the industry, specifically the high upfront costs of owning an electric vehicle and the limited charging infrastructure. Thus, it is crucial that a policy and regulatory framework is in place to usher in the uptake of electric vehicles in the country," said Gatchalian.

Aside from infrastructure improvement, Gatchalian also called for the granting of incentives for owners of electric vehicles. These incentives include exemption from number coding, prioritization in registration and renewal, and exemption from payment of motor vehicle user's charge. The bill also aims to grant street parking fee exemption for EV users. Manufacturers and importers of EVs will also benefit from fiscal incentives.

The bill also encourages public utility vehicle operators who will utilize a fully electrified fleet with prioritization of franchise issuance, renewal and other services.

The merits of this rather ambitious bill which aims for cleaner air with use of zero emission electric vehicles is truly admirable, the additional burden it aims to put on business owners will be a tough hurdle to tackle. Electricity cost in the Philippines is also the 2nd highest in Asia, and the highest in the ASEAN region. Although it would be worth noting that our neighbors Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand do get government subsidies to lower power costs.

While the bill considers fluctuating fuel costs as the main concern, it does not weigh in the significant price difference between a conventional combustion engine powered vehicle and hybrids or electric vehicles. While some premium models have indeed become more competitively priced, they are not financially accessible for the larger part of the market.

It also fails to consider the end-of-life of electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles where batteries have to go through possible recycling for use in power generation or proper disposal of unusable batteries. It has to include the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which will recommend the proper procedure for this.

Nonetheless, it is a step towards a progressive path, and we hope they iron out the kinks properly and craft a sustainable electric vehicle program that will greatly benefit all.