Yes, you can now buy a hybrid or electric car locally


Iñigo S. Roces

Hard to believe as it may be, some brands in the Philippines have begun offering hybrid and electric cars for local sale since before the pandemic. Unfortunately, Tesla is not yet here. Nonetheless there are far many more affordable options to choose from.

Many of you might be thinking, “Is it even practical?” Yes, they are. In fact, considering the kind of driving we do in busy cities like Metro Manila, Cebu, or Davao, there couldn’t be a more practical solution than an electrified vehicle.

There should be little worry about the lack of electric vehicle charging stations as a home charger is all you really need. The average commute in the city is anywhere from five to 12 kilometers one way. This adds up to 10-24 kilometers a day. Over the course of a week, the average person drives just 120 kilometers. Since many of these electric vehicles boast of a range of anywhere from 200-400 kilometers, it will take up to a week before these vehicles run out of charge.

Granted, we should also factor in other potential issues like heavy traffic, heavy air conditioning use, as well as heavy accessory use like audio, lights, wipers, which may drain the battery further. These only diminish the range by just a handful of kilometers, thus making your charge last from as long as seven days to about three to five days before needing another top up.

Perhaps the only downside to owning an electric vehicle is the limited out-of-town trip options. Unless your hotel will let you plug-in your car to the nearest wall socket, you’re likely limited to your own out-of-town homes or very understanding AirBNB accommodations that all must be within the 200-400 kilometer range.

This is where the many more hybrid options come in. Hybrids use a combination of an electric and gasoline engine. Having the best of both worlds, they switch to whichever power source is the most efficient for the driving condition. At low speeds, most hybrids are programmed to use just the electric motor to propel the car. The gasoline engine kicks in at higher speeds or when the battery is low.

Want to use the electric motor as much as possible? Opt for the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), which comes with a charging device to top up the battery.

Granted, it doesn’t have the same pure electric range as dedicated EVs, yet it also doesn’t leave you high and dry when there’s no more power thanks to the coupled gasoline engine. While hybrids still have emissions, they’re radically decreased because of this ability to shift. They also have the added benefit of improved fuel consumption, with hybrid models easily returning four to six kilometers per liter more than their conventional gasoline counterparts.

So what electrified vehicles can you buy in the Philippines now? Those wanting a pure electric vehicle can choose from Audi’s range of E-Tron vehicles, the five models offered by BYD, Changan’s Eado EV460, Jaguar’s I-Pace EV, Nissan’s LEAF, and Porsche’s Taycan. They’re not cheap, starting at 1.5 million or more as much of the price is dictated by the massive batteries they require.

Those looking for something in between should check out Plug-in Hybrid vehicles (PHEV). These are hybrids with a charger, allowing you to top up the batteries so you don’t have to run the engine much to charge them up. Among them are the Ranger Rover Sport and Vogue PHEV, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, and Volvo S90, XC60, and XC90.

Perhaps the easiest to get into are the hybrids and mild hybrids. These are designed to work like conventional cars without any plugs or chargers to worry about. Their automated systems monitor the battery for you and charge them as needed. Some examples are the Geely Azkarra, Coolray, and Okavango; Hyundai Ioniq; Lexus CT200h, ES300h, GS450h, IS300h, LS500h, NX350h and RX450h; Range Rover Evoque; Mazda 3 and CX-30; and the Toyota Camry, Corolla Altis, Corolla Cross, RAV4, and Prius.