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Nissan introduced the LEAF on May 9th in the Philippines and officially moved the country into the era of electric vehicles.

Nissan Philippines Inc. ( NPI), the local sales unit partially owned by Japanese Nissan Motor Corp. is, focuses on an ecosystem approach to selling and supporting LEAF. The priorities are not just vehicle sales, but also charging stations and a development plan to increase charging stations before sales volume.

It took Nissan almost three years to introduce the LEAF in the Philippines. The idea that the EV should be part of the Nissan stable was launched in 2018. At the end of 2019, NPI confirmed the LEAF’s place in the brand’s overall product strategy. Pricing, charging infrastructure and the pandemic disrupted the original launch in September 2020. Nissan decided to enforce an “unofficial” launch, open the car to the public and show it off to various government agencies, give it test drives and carefully introduce the idea that the car is expensive would be largely due to the way imported vehicles are taxed in the Philippines.

“Finally bringing the Nissan LEAF to the Philippines is a culmination of our efforts over the years to reap the benefits to the Filipino public to inform and educate about the introduction of electric vehicles. The Nissan LEAF is key to realizing our vision to enrich Filipino life towards a connected, sustainable and resilient society, “said Atsushi Najima, President and CEO of Nissan in the Philippines, at a press conference on virtual media.

The LEAF is the first commercially available electric vehicle in the Philippines, but not the very first.

The first fully electric vehicle by an automobile manufacturer that was marketed in large quantities came from the Chinese car maker Chery in 2011. It was a day late with its launch at the Manila International Auto Show but eventually made it. The compact Chery M1 and tiny QQ were designed to be sold in bulk. However, the timing of the start was very bad.

The coming of the free trade agreement between China and ASEAN (CAFTA) would cut tariffs from 30% to 0-5%. Managing the freight and acquisition costs of the manufacturer and a separate battery supplier was an additional tactic to bring the price down. When it was introduced, however, it was unable to gain traction, mainly due to the short driving distance of 50 to 80 kilometers and the lack of charging infrastructure, even though the car was equipped with a bulky “portable” charger.

In addition, the intended pricing was never achieved reached. CAFTA did not take place until 5 years later and the local battery supplier would not produce the deep cycle lead-acid battery packs at the originally agreed price. Despite support from Chery China, the electric version of the QQ (a Chevrolet Spark Knockoff) would sell for P590,000 [$ 28,910] while the gasoline-powered version was only P360,000 [$ 7,500]. Since neither of the expectations of the two tiny electric vehicles was met, the project failed.

BYD, another Chinese automaker with a presence in the US with electric and hybrid buses, launched the e6 EV in 2016. The all-electric crossover uses lithium-ion batteries and has a range of 300 km when fully charged and consumes 25 kWh per 100 km or 1.9 km / kWh. To date, no vehicle has been sold, although BYD has other hybrid cars, the Tang Hybrid, which have actually found their way to some buyers.

In 2018, Hyundai presented the Ioniq – but technically not for sale in large quantities. It was available to order for anyone who wanted it. At this point it is unclear whether units have actually been sold.

The same applies to Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV, which has been available since 2016. The reason for plug-in hybrids was, of course, to allay the fear of range in a country where only charging stations for electric tricycles and buses were available before 2021.

As we deal with hybrids, it should be mentioned that Toyota Motor Philippines Introduced the Prius in 2009. It came at a high price and sold less than two hundred in its life, although it made a model change three years later, introducing the smaller Prius C. Things could change now that Toyota also introduced the Corolla Hybrid.

The company “unofficially” launched the car in September 2020 to keep a promise it made before the pandemic. A road show was held over a week to show off the car to various government offices, schools, and the public.

The price is 2.79 million pesetas ($ 56,500), which is more than $ 24,000 is more than the $ 31,620 retail price for the base model. The pricing makes it unattractive and unaffordable for most Filipinos, even for those looking to buy an electric vehicle. The easiest way to understand the intricate tax and customs structures is simply this: 30% tariffs are levied on vehicles that were not imported from the ASEAN region, for which now only tariffs between 0% and 5% are levied. If the vehicle is made in Japan, the same 30% import duties will be charged (except if it falls under a weird category that exempts luxury vehicles like Lexus from the harsh taxes). Regardless of whether the LEAF in the Philippines comes from Symrna, TN, or Kanagawa in Japan or the Sunderland plant in the UK, no significant tax breaks are granted.

NPI President Atsushi Najima answered a question in the two weeks ago Media forum and told CleanTechnica that pricing was a constant battle. In order to make not only the LEAF successful, but also the acceptance of electric vehicles in the Philippines as a whole, the cooperation of all manufacturers and related sectors is crucial.

“We will work with everyone, the European and Chinese EV manufacturers to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in the Philippines, “explained Najima.

Nissan is setting up 7 charging stations in the country through its dealers – which is poor compared to current US standards. However, this must also be taken into account with regard to the vehicle market. When the LEAF arrived in the US, it only had over a hundred charging points. Four years later, that number rose to 2,600, and today there are over 41,000 available in the US, including alternative plug-in stations.

In the Philippines, Nissan is leading the way in creating the largest nationwide network of EV charging stations, starting with three ready-to-receive plug-ins. The locations of the EV charging stations are of strategic geographical importance – so that LEAF owners can use the entire range of the vehicle’s 300-kilometer single charging route.

For Nissan, this knowledge has developed over 21 years since the development of its first production-ready electric vehicle , the Hypermini, which despite technical competence and performance was not brought to the market because the battery technologies were not yet fully developed. The first Nissan LEAF, launched in the US and Japan in 2010, was a leap in not only the evolution of energy and battery technology, but also powertrain technology that was being remotely watched by other automakers.

Unlike other automakers who were early on in the field, Nissan opted for the full EV route rather than a hybrid approach because it wanted a zero-emission footprint from the vehicle side. Hybrids work with small-displacement gasoline engines to eliminate EV owners’ greatest fear – they’re running out of power in the middle of nowhere.

And the payoff for sticking to its all-electric approach has grown in terms of advances in Production, technology and test functions paid off. Its knowledge and research is in-depth regarding alternative fuel vehicles as it has been involved in the manufacture of electric vehicles – in prototype and production forms – for 47 years. And because of the LEAF, it is the world’s largest seller of electric vehicles.

Raymond G.B. Tribdino is a college professor and webmaster and & editor for information technology at Malaya Business Insight in the Philippines. He has been driving cars since 1992 and electric vehicles since 1998. He wrote for, one of the earliest electric vehicle websites in the United States. He is husband, father of five, weekend mechanic and craftsman.

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