The Autogas jeepney hits the road
Autogas could be the answer to the cleaning up the Philippines’ famous jeepney. Mercedita G. Pastrana reports from Manila.
The iconic jeepney – the “King of the Road“ – is one of the most important means of transportation in the Philippines, as well as a source of national pride because of the ingenuity that it represents: the conversion of a military vehicle into a robust diesel-powered minibus. Painted in bright colours, it navigates even rough roads and flooded streets. But it is fast becoming outmoded in these times of environmental awareness: it is a big source of highly visible pollution, notably soot – a major threat to human health. The problem is made worse by poor fuel economy, which also makes the jeepney an increasingly expensive form of transport. As diesel prices keep rising, dragging up fares, jeepney rides may no longer be affordable.
Pollution in Manila – partly the result of diesel-powered jeepneys
If the jeepney is to survive, a solution to these problems must be found. And one solution is Autogas. A Filipino company, GO LPG, is launching a programme to promote the use of Autogas (LPG) in jeepneys, promising cleaner, more efficient and cheaper-to-run vehicles in the future. The objective of the programme is to encourage retrofitting of jeepneys with an Autogas-powered engine or, alternatively, to offer a brand-new chassis and body fitted with the Autogas engine. In both cases, the fuel tank is located under the chassis.
All the Jeepneys on the road today run on diesel fuel, as it delivers the torque necessary to propel the heavy engine needed to carry a load of 8 to 12 passengers. And diesel fuel is much cheaper than gasoline thanks to tax incentives, because it is used for public utility vehicles.
Autogas jeepneys could bring major environmental and cost savings. Soot emissions from Autogas are nil and emissions of most other pollutants are much lower, because the fuel burns more completely and more cleanly. Fuel economy with modern Autogas systems is higher and, under the current tax system, Autogas is cheaper: it currently sells for about 33 pesos per litre at the pump, compared with about 44 pesos for diesel. Gasoline is much more expensive.
GO LPG, recently launched two Autogas models – the Happy Go Jeepney and the Pinoy Express Jeepney. Both can seat up to 23 passengers. The engine is an inline-four DOHC 16-valve powerplant, designated a 4RB2 – a derivative of Toyota’s 2RZ engine.
GO LPG’s new Autogas-powered Happy Go Jeepney
The two models are to be tested by the National Federation of Transport Cooperative, whose members will test their efficiency and operating performance over the course of one month using different routes in Metro Manila, the capital city. The programme is supported by the concerned government agencies, including the Department of Transportation & Communication, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Department of Energy.
The Pinoy Express Jeepney
In both cases, the engine complies with the Euro III emissions standard according to GO LPG’s own tests, even though the Philippines is currently following only the Euro II standard. Most diesel-powered jeepneys fail to pass the current standards. GO LPG has recorded fuel consumption of 7.5 km/litre, with a full passenger load in city driving.
The push to switch to Autogas in jeepneys is being supported by the World LPG Association. In June 2012, WLPGA Director David Tyler, together with the Philippines LPG Industry Association (LPGIA), held a series of meetings with key stakeholders in Manila to promote the use of Autogas across the country, including by jeepneys. These meetings included discussions with government, at Under Secretary level, to debate the inclusion of Autogas in the Philippines transportation fuels energy programme. The discussions included the recent announcement by the World Health Organisation (WHO) stating that diesel emissions are now confirmed as carcinogenic to humans. The result of this intervention was a commitment from the government to explore ways to convert jeepneys to Autogas across Metro Manila. A working group is being established to determine the best course of action for this fuel switch.
To learn more about Autogas and LPG in the Philippines, please contact Mercedita by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the WLPGA Lobby Plan and WLPGA’s work in the Philippines, please contact David on email@example.com.