It’s been quite a while (I think more than 10 years) since I last wrote a motoring column – it was for another broadsheet in town.
That’s why when given the opportunity to write again by the top honcho of this newspaper, who am I to pass it up? Yes, it’s been an honor to be given the opportunity, and now, we’re BACK ON TRACK!
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Just a few months before we temporarily stopped writing our said column, we attended the 5-day Michelin Challenge Bibendum, a global summit for sustainable mobility, in Berlin, Germany.
It was held May of 2011 at the former airport named Berlin Tempelhof in which more than 6,000 representatives from different countries and more than 120 “electric vehicles” – ebikes, cars, and trucks – were featured. There were even Segways and an F3 racing car among the participants, all running on electric.
Yes, the EVs are just being presented as a cleaner alternative to the internal combustion engine. I couldn’t forget that parade of EVs that started at the iconic Brandenburg Gate up to the Berlin Tempelhof Airport. It was a sight to behold!
At the gigantic venue, anyone can ride all those EVs and get all the information available regarding them as start-up manufacturers and makers are on hand in their respective stalls nearby.
During the opening day ceremonies, the then managing partner of the Michelin Group Michel Rollier, delivered a quite “prophetic” speech that we recalled as we see the fast developing transformation of our vehicles today from internal combustion engine to hybrid to electric.
This is how he summed up the future of mobility then: “The spirit that guides the Michelin Challenge Bibendum is to show that the automobile’s capacity for improvement is alive and well and that road transport has a bright future serving society’s needs. We can and must reduce the gap between the scope of the challenges we face – which include energy, environmental and safety issues, as well as universal access to efficient mobility solutions – and the slow pace of decision-making processes around the world. Innovation and its organized deployment require close coordination between the public and private sectors. Let’s look to the future without fear, keeping a totally open mind with regard to all both local and global solutions. What’s truly important is not to put off making the tough choices required for everyone’s well-being. We’re counting on the experts’ discussions and the events in Berlin to help us take an additional step toward ensuring sustainable road mobility that is cleaner, safer and connected.”
During that time, most of the countries in Europe were already in the midst of fast transforming the landscape of their transportation into electricity. We were well informed that the manufacture of EVs there was already underway and that the foundation of the EV infrastructure (putting up power charging stations) was being laid at a frenzied pace.
Yes, Nissan came out with its famous EV that year – the Leaf – and we were able to experience being onboard one during the event. That Nissan Leaf was eventually adjudged Car of the World that particular year.
But most big-time Japanese carmakers (not only Nissan) surprisingly slowed down in competing with their European rivals as far as EVs are concerned after they seemed to “hit the wall” in coming up with the perfect batteries for hybrid cars that they are promoting. Most of them went into hybrid engines.
Imagine, the Nissan Leaf (which is purely electric) was introduced to the local market only in the middle of 2020, more than nine years after it was rolled out in the European market, which continued its march toward perfecting the electric vehicles.
It’s only when the Chinese started to overhaul their transportation initiatives in order to fight the continuing pollution of their air space that the Asian vehicle landscape was awakened. The Chinese started to overhaul their bus system by eradicating those antiquated buses with the electric ones.
But many Chinese car manufacturers have already learned from their European counterparts (most of them were their partners before when they opened up their economy to foreign businesses) as they quietly followed going electric on their vehicles.
This is the main reason why you have been seeing several Chinese manufacturers who are now peddling EVs left and right here in the country more than their Japanese rivals.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the continuing war between Russia and Ukraine have created havoc around the world especially in the car industry. But the EV sales, surprisingly, grew by an amazing 42% even as the global automotive market shrank in 2021. That figure is expected to grow as high as 51% worldwide this year.
And yes, the EV market is predicted to still continue to be dominated by China and Europe as they account for an eye-popping 80% of the sales between them! It is also predicted that several foreign carmakers are likely to increase their stakes in the car-production joint ventures in China, as it lifts the 49% cap on ownership from January this year.
The United States is fast catching up but it needs to double-up its effort before they can go side-by-side with the two leaders in EV sales.
Next time around, let us see how the Japanese carmakers are doing as far as EVs are concerned.
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It’s nice getting in touch once again (even only through the phone) with our good friend and still the president of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. or CAMPI, Atty. Rommel Gutierrez, who is from Toyota Motor Philippines.
For your information, CAMPI will be holding its 8th edition of the Philippine International Motor Show on Sept. 15-18 at the World Trade Center. Its theme will be Mobility + Humanity: Innovating for the Common Good.
This is one motor show you need not miss if you are one true-blue car enthusiast. Congratulations and good luck, Atty. Rommel!