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Philippines sets roadmap for local EV industry

17 Mar 2014  | Stephen Padilla

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The Philippines is taking a huge leap in the electric vehicle (EV) industry.

The recently concluded 3rd Electric Vehicle Summit in Pasig City—attended by more than 500 participants all over the world such as manufacturers, the academe, government officials and non-government organisations—had introduced some bright prospects for EV players.

Rommel Juan, president of the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (EVAP), revealed during the event an ambitious industry target of putting 1 million EVs on Philippine roads by 2020. This EV investment is not limited to cars as it also includes electric bicycles, trikes, motorcycles and jeepneys.

One of the things that EVAP considers a roadblock to achieving this goal is the expensive cost of an EV's most important component—its battery. In 2012, a lithium-ion battery was around $650, but now it is at $500. Although the price has dropped significantly, a developing country like the Philippines will still find this a bit excessive. Add this to the fact that the country does not have an established manufacturing sector.

EVAP, however, may find consolation in a report made by Navigant Research, which claims that li-ion battery costs may fall by close to two-thirds by 2020. From $500 today, it could drop to just $300 by 2015 and to $180 by the end of the decade. In the same vein, McKinsey & Co. also released a study early last year stating that li-ion batteries would drop from about $600 to $200 by 2020 and to $160 by 2025.

Even Tesla CEO Elon Musk believes the trend is true when he said back in 2012 that he expected the price of cells to fall at $200 in the near future.

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One of the electric jeepneys plying the roads of Makati City.

Prices of metal, wiring and plastic are also declining as battery makers continue to find ways to cut the cost of cobalt in batteries. A start-up from MIT, SolidEnergy, has introduced a solution to this problem. It has successfully developed materials that can increase by at least 30 per cent the amount of energy stored in li-ion batteries and even lower costs to make EVs more affordable.

What SolidEnergy did was replace the graphite electrode used in conventional li-ion batteries with a high-energy lithium metal one, and to prevent the metal from causing short circuits and fires, it developed better electrolytes. The start-up estimated that these materials, when used, could lower the cost of battery packs to $130.


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