We all know that electrified (hybrids and battery-electric) vehicles are now starting to grow in numbers. Yes, high fuel prices may be one of the driving factors, but there's another advantage of having these electrified vehicles in your garage.
According to the Republic Act 11697 or the Electric Vehicle Industry Development Act (EVIDA), electrified vehicles are exempted from being apprehended in places where the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP) is being implemented. In other words, no number coding (at the LGU's discretion, of course).
The MMDA even released a memorandum that directs their traffic enforcement units not to apprehend and issue tickets for these types of vehicles. However, this did not come with a list of models in the market classified as electric vehicles. That's where it can get confusing.
For a typical automotive enthusiast, it's relatively easy to spot a hybrid or an all-electric vehicle even from a mile away. But what about those who struggle to identify which is which? How is a traffic enforcer supposed to determine if a vehicle is qualified to be exempted?
Well, say no more. We at AutoIndustriya.com have engaged our inner Sherlock Holmes to show you some simple identifying marks and telltale signs that should help traffic enforcers recognize hybrids and battery-electric vehicles out on the road. And for motorists that drive hybrids, this is also how you can explain your car is electric and hybrid even the most stubborn TE.
Why are EVs and Hybrids exempt?
EVIDA, or the EV law, is aimed to encourage the use of hybrids and electric vehicles in the market by offering fiscal and non-fiscal incentives for manufacturers and consumers alike. According to its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), EV users are entitled to enjoy these non-fiscal incentives for 8 years from the effectivity of the EV law:
Priority registration and renewal of registration, plus the issuance of a special plate from the LTO
Exemption from the UVVRP or the number coding scheme implemented by the MMDA and LGUs
Based on the EV law, Electric Vehicles refer to "vehicles with at least one electric drive for vehicle propulsion". In the case of hybrid vehicles, they still fall under the category of Electric Vehicles as stated in the EV law's definition of terms, since hybrid-electric vehicles both utilize a rechargeable energy storage system and a fueled power source (in other words, Internal Combustion Engines). So yes, all types of hybrid vehicles (plug-in, series, and mild hybrids with integrated starter generators) are also exempt from number coding.
As of this writing, the LTO is yet to release the special plates for EVs and hybrid vehicles. And for now, we're yet to see how different it will look compared to the normal plates. But eventually, all EVs and hybrids will come with special plates indicating them as such, which should make it the easiest and most recognizable indicator of an electrified vehicle on the road.
Since the special plates are not yet here, the other easy way to identify an electrified vehicle is by following what a popular TV commercial is saying - “Check the label”. These often apply to hybrid vehicles which are being sold together with their non-hybrid counterparts, but even EVs have their own unique badges to show.
Perhaps, the most popular example we could use is the Toyota badge. On regular models, it's simply finished in chrome. But for their hybrid models like the Corolla Cross and the RAV4, the badge adds a bit of blue in its black background, and the same applies for electrified Lexus models, aside from the added “h” suffix after the model name.
In addition, you'll see unique badges like “48V EMS” seen on the Geely Okavango, “e-Power” in the Nissan Kicks, plus the usual “hybrid” and “PHEV” badging done by other manufacturers like Maserati, Mitsubishi, and Land Rover.
You may not see the difference, but you can definitely hear it. EVs are typically silent even when they're moving. The most audible sound you can hear on EVs is not even close to the noise that a typical internal combustion engine makes. The whine of an EV is closer to the noise made by remote-controlled (RC) miniature cars and LRT trains.
Front grilles with little to no opening
Aside from giving a vehicle its own identity, the front grille is used to feed air to cool a typical combustion-engined car's radiators. But with fully-electric vehicles having reduced cooling needs, their front grilles don't need to have those openings.
Some of these solid grilles can be found in fully-electric models like the BMW iX, the Audi e-Tron, and the Nissan Leaf.
A charging port
The charging port is another indication of an electric or hybrid vehicle. While it's hard to spot these things while the vehicle is moving, some EVs have charging ports in places where gas filler caps are usually located, while some have it in their front fenders and front grille.
In case you're wondering why you see some new cars with two filler covers – one at the usual spot in the rear quarter panel and another on the front fenders, they do not have dual fuel tanks. But instead, the one you're seeing on the front fenders is the cover for a plug-in hybrid's charging port.
These can be seen in the likes of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, the Chery Tiggo 8 Pro PHEV, and the Range Rover Sport PHEV.
Pop the hood
For traffic enforcers who have already flagged down a supposedly "coding" vehicle, it also pays to check what's underneath the hood to check if it's really a battery-electric, a hybrid-electric, or just a normal car pretending to be an EV.
Once you pop a typical battery-electric vehicle's hood, the most likely thing you'll see is a cargo compartment, as the space that used to house a typical combustion engine has been cleared up. But in case there's a powertrain in there, it's likely to feature orange-colored electrical conduits, which serve as the power lines for the batteries. The same thing applies to most hybrid-electric vehicles.
No exhaust pipes for fully-electric vehicles
No matter how hard you squat in the back of an electric vehicle, you won't see any exhaust pipes sticking out of the undercarriage. Because as mentioned earlier, EVs don't have engines, and their electric motors do not emit fumes.
On the other hand, plug-in hybrids and mild hybrids combine an electric drive system with an internal combustion engine, so it still requires an exhaust pipe. A prime example of that is the Nissan Kicks e-Power. It may be driven by an electric motor, but the presence of the 1.2-liter engine as a generator means it has an exhaust in the back.
Are there more simple ways how to identify a hybrid or a battery-electric vehicle we may have missed out on? Let us know in the comments.