If there’s one vehicle the Philippines is famous for, it’s the jeepney. But aside from the one often seen for public transportation, there’s also a jeep available for private use. Often referred to as the “Owner-type”, these have been a staple mode of transportation for Filipinos in the past and even present. Though not as popular as before, you will still find a bunch of them on the road.
These Owner-type jeepneys are usually powered by surplus engines and make use of old chassis. Sometimes, however, they are fitted with more powerful engines such as the Toyota 4A-GE or Nissan SR20. But over in the US, someone decided to put an electric powertrain into one.
Built by a company called Ai Design, the electric Owner-type jeepney is based on a World War II-era Willys Jeep. That said, it’s not a complete ground-up build like the newer Owner-type jeepneys assembled locally. However, this particular model has been extensively modified and only a few original parts remain, two to be exact.
Interestingly, Matt Farrah says that the stainless body on this jeep was made in the Philippines. That's because the original owner was a soldier that was stationed in the country years ago. Sometime in the 60s, the stainless steel Owner-type shell was fitted onto an original Willys chassis. He then decided to bring it back to the US after his tour of duty was completed.
It wasn’t until his son decided to restore the jeep did the EV conversion happen. The electric powertrain used was sourced from a wrecked Tesla. With that, it’s possibly the cleanest and quietest Owner-type jeep in existence. Aside from a 25kW motor and five batteries, no details regarding power, specs, and range were mentioned.
Ai Design ensured that EV Owner-type jeep could still go off the beaten path. Even with the more sensitive electric powertrain, the company said it's fully weather-sealed, allowing the driver to do “Jeep things”. Unlike an original Willys 4x4, however, the EV conversion has rendered this jeep as rear-wheel-drive only. There was no mention of costs, but it’s safe to assume that converting this Owner-type jeep into an EV wasn’t cheap.
Given the ingenuity and talent of locals, we won’t be surprised if we see electric Owner-type jeepneys, similar to this one, roaming the Philippines in the future. You may check out the full detailed build in the video by Hagerty above.