A Japanese electric vehicle manufacturer has begun mass producing electric tricycles in the Philippines.
BEMAC Electric Transportation Philippines Inc., a subsidiary of Japan-based Uzushio Electric Co., is capable of producing at least 500 e-trikes a month.
"The Philippines is the biggest market for this kind of vehicle," company executive Takahiro Innami said on the sidelines of the launch ceremony Tuesday at a hotel in Manila.
"Tonight, we, BEMAC group, are making a pledge . . . of bringing back the beautiful Philippines," Masato Oda, president of Uzushio Electric, said in a speech at the ceremony.
BEMAC opened in the Philippines in 2013, tying up with a local manufacturer to set up an assembly line in Cavite province, south of Manila, for its 68VM electric tricycle.
The 450,000 pesos ($10,100) model is powered by an AC motor and lithium-ion rechargeable battery. It carries a driver and six passengers and can travel at speeds of up to 50 kph.
A few years ago, the Asian Development Bank launched a $300 million loan assistance program to the Philippine government for the delivery of 100,000 electric tricycles.
Heherson Alvarez, adviser to President Benigno Aquino III on global warming and climate change, said the 68VM could contribute to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions in the Philippines.
The BEMAC project is also seen as helping to generate jobs locally. Currently, it employs up to 40 staff.
Innami said the company is already talking to potential buyers, including those in popular sightseeing areas "which care about the environment" as well as tricycle operators in Manila. "If we have more orders, then we'll increase our production volume here," he said.
Innami said the company has plans to expand into Vietnam and Thailand in the future.