Amid protests from jeepney transport groups, the Department of Trade and Industry and Philippine Parts Makers Association, Inc. (PPMA) held the first Philippine Auto Parts Expo (PhilAPEX) at the Philippine Trade and Training Center last week.
Serving as the main draw of the PhilAPEX were the 16 PUV prototypes built by commercial vehicle and body manufacturers like Isuzu, Hino, Fuso, Hyundai, Foton, Tata, Centro, Almazora, Santa Rosa and PhUV.
The PUV prototypes presented closely follow the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Bureau of Philippine Standards (BPS) Philippine National Standard (PNS) for PUVs, 2126:2017. The new standard put forth by the agency specifies dimensional limits for PUVs with strict limits on the seating arrangement and capacity, and having a maximum mass not exceeding five tons. Also included in the dimensional limits are the vehicle’s overall height, width and length, wheelbase and front and rear overhang, cabin, seat and seat lay out, step board, service door and emergency exit.
The jeepney replacements, branded as Eco PUVs by the DTI, hope to address many of the complaints against the current jeepneys, among them the old surprul or second hand-sourced engines, the varying sizes and unsafe entry and egress, as well as cash-based fare system.
To make the vehicles more accessible to jeepney operators, the government has allotted the third slot of the Board of Investment, and Department of Trade and Industry’s Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) Program for PUV Modernization. Like the other CARS Program participants, the PUV must be locally assembled, thus providing more employment and business opportunities for the SMEs. The final PUV design has yet to be selected, with the units displayed at the PhilAPEX serving as bids for the final design.
Besides the benefits the come with local assembly, the third slot allows the government to grant loans at low interest to those that wish to acquire the new vehicles. In order to acquire any of these new Jeepneys, drivers and operators must form cooperatives and register with the LTFRB. No lone operators are allowed. This allows the government to more closely monitor the franchise system, update routes, as well as provide training for drivers.
The government has prepared a financing package, called 5-6-7-8. It requires the Jeepney operator to show his credentials, as well as proof of membership with a recognized cooperative. From there, he will be required to pay 5-percent downpayment, which will be kept at a 6-percent interest rate, for as long as 7 years. Finally, the government will offer as high as an P80,000 subsidy per unit.
Based on the new standards, the future PUVS will now fall into one of two vehicle classes: Class II for inner-city travel and Class III for inter-city travel. Besides the engine modernization, which requires vehicles to be powered by a Euro-4 compliant engine, the new PUV design also allows for passengers to stand upright, wider aisles, standardized seating arrangements, and side entrances with closing doors.
Many of the prototypes also included additional equipment like speed limiters, a GPS navigation system, dashboard cameras, Wi-Fi, and closed-circuit television cameras as additional security and safety measures. Centro Manufacturing, Corp. led the charge with as many as seven prototypes, built upon power trains and platforms provided by truck manufacturing brands such as Isuzu, Fuso/Mitsubishi, Foton and electric jeepney maker PhUV Inc.
Hino fielded two entries, both Class II in air-con and non-air-con configurations. Bodybuilder Santa Rosa also fielded two entries, one still bearing the iconic jeepney design, albeit with an integrated cashless payment system, LED route sign, and interior LED lights.
Hyundai, with bodybuilder Del Monte Motors, presented Class II and Class III examples, featuring built-in CCTV monitors, speed limiters as well as onboard entertainment. Tata Motors was also present with Class II and Class III prototypes which it hopes to assemble locally.
Besides the PUV Modernization prototypes, the PhilAPEX also allowed local parts makers and suppliers, many of which are participants of the government’s CARS Program to showcase their products. Toyota and Mitsubishi presented their CARS Program vehicles, the Vios and Mirage, highlighting the locally assembled components. Parts suppliers like Philippine Aluminum Wheels, Inc., Enkei Philippines, Denso, RGC Group of Companies and many more were present at the show.