Lopez-led firm kicks off venture into electric vehicles

Published August 25, 2021, 9:00 AM

by Myrna M. Velasco

Lopez-owned company Therma One Transport Corporation (TOTC), which is a business unit of the group’s engineering and construction firm First Balfour, will be venturing into electric vehicles – primarily the deployment of high-tech and zero-emission electric buses that will initially be used as service vehicles of the various companies of the conglomerate.

“We have been looking at investing in electric vehicles for service vehicles for some time now. For us, this is the future, ” TOTC President Anthony Fernandez said, adding that such undertaking will be part of “integrating sustainability in our businesses and in how we operate.”

As a kick-off point on the ‘greening of the transport system’ of the businesses under Lopez-led First Philippine Holdings Corporation (FPHC), TOTC indicated that it already reached an agreement with the local subsidiary of US-based Global Electric Transport Worldwide Inc. (GET) for the acquisition of new-generation COMET electric buses.

Officials from First Balfour, TOTC and GET-Philippines show copies of agreements they signed during an online signing ceremony Aug. 11 for the COMET buses. They are (clockwise from top left) GET-Philippines Managing Director Anthony Dy, TOTC President Anthony Fernandez, GET-Philippines Vice President for Business Development and Legal Affairs SP Sumulong, GET-Philippines President Freddie Tinga, TOTC General Manager Levi Dy, and First Balfour Chief Finance Officer Jonathan Tansengco.

The initial procurement, according to TOTC, will be two COMET buses; and that will be ramped up to 30 buses upon the delivery of the other units by October this year.

US firm GET has been developing green transport solutions, like the COMET or Community Optimized Managed Electric Transport, which has been serving as its mitigating response to climate change risks.

As emphasized, the COMET buses “can travel up to 100 kilometers on a single charge,” and each bus, will be equipped with the passenger-comforting amenities like wifi connection; a GPS or global positioning system device; as well as a contact-tracing app which will be relevant in the government’s protocols and measures to stem the spread of Covid-19 infections.

Fernandez further explained that “each COMET bus can displace an estimated 40,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide or CO2 that the bus would otherwise spew to the atmosphere, if it were to run on fossil fuel.”

TOTC underscored that their longer term plan is “to replicate the non-polluting transport project in other business sites and projects where it will be suitable.”

For the first e-bus fleet to be delivered, TOTC stipulated that it already inked a separate agreement with affiliate firm First Philec Inc, another subsidiary of FPHC, for the use of the COMET bus by the employees of the latter.

First Philec, which is into electric transformer manufacturing, has its operations base at the 520-hectare First Philippine Industrial Park, which is a Lopez-controlled economic zone development in Santo Tomas, Batangas.

Being the first user of the COMET e-bus to be brought into the country by the Lopez group, First Philec President Ariel Ong asserted that such “demonstrates that we are ready to forge collaborations and partnerships for a decarbonized and regenerative future.”

GET-Philippines President Freddie Tinga stated that in this tie-up with the Lopez group, “we expect that we will be at the forefront of what we believe is a changing of the guard in the transport and sustainability sector.”

TOTC cited that there have been studies flagging the transport sector “as a major emitter of CO2, a greenhouse gas whose massive and continued build-up in the atmosphere, is being associated with climate change and destructive weather patterns, such as typhoons and floods.”

Presently, the Lopez firm highlighted that “an overwhelming number of motor vehicles around the world run on gasoline or diesel,” which are fossil fuels typically classified to have high CO2 content.

TOTC thus noted that “a shift to the use of electric vehicles, which emit no CO2, has been identified as one solution to check the buildup of more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.” ###