Allow me to share a story of advancing technology.
The ice trade was an immensely profitable industry, flourishing primarily in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The ice was “harvested” from natural sources such as ponds and streams and was transported globally using railroads and ships. A strategic network of ice wagons finished the final distribution of this valued commodity.
The roots of this industry started in 1806 when Frederic Tudor, eventually known as the Ice King, pioneered the trade in the New England area of the US by shipping ice to his wealthy clientele on Caribbean island of Martinique, later expanding to Cuba.
Thirty years later he was shipping nearly 12,000 tons of ice, covering the southern US, and extending his reach to destinations as far away as India, Australia, China, and South America.
During the peak of the ice trade, this business sector employed an amazing 90,000 individuals and relied on the labor of 25,000 horses in the US alone. The demand for ice experienced a notable surge during World War I.
However, after the war, the ice trade experienced a steep decline with the introduction of refrigeration systems. By the 1930s, modern refrigerators started gaining acceptance in homes, and by the 1950s, they had become nearly universal in both city and rural settings, writing the extinction of the once-thriving ice trade.
After the refrigerator came home freezers, introduced in 1940. In 1955 the domestic deep freezer, which was cold enough to allow the owners to freeze fresh food themselves rather than buying food that was already frozen.
Refrigerator ownership in various nations: In Africa—Algeria and Egypt, 99 percent; Uganda, 6 percent; and Kenya, 11 percent. Mexico has 61 percent ownership, with Cuba at 86 percent. There is a ref in 86 percent of Vietnamese homes, and 93 percent in Thailand; but only 67 percent of Indonesian homes, and about 60 percent in the Philippines.
Cost is not the most important consideration for refrigerator ownership. Across the globe, particularly in less-developed nations, the primary issue is the reliable availability of electricity and its cost as a factor for buying even the least expensive refrigerator.
September 26, 2023: “Tembo E-LV BV is pleased to announce that it has signed a joint venture agreement with Francisco Motor Corp, the pioneering manufacturers of the iconic jeepneys in the Philippines, which are primarily used for public transportation. Tembo will develop and supply electric utility vehicle electrification kits for a new generation of electric jeepneys.” That is good.
“Francisco Motors said they are set to present a 10-year, $10-billion plan for jeepney modernization that they intend to enroll for the third slot of the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS). If found eligible, CARS will also fund 40 percent of the capex, which would cut the production cost, according to Francisco”. Incentives may be equivalent to P200,000 per unit. Also good.
But here may be a problem—“May 19, 2023: The Asian Development Bank reports that according to the Philippines’ Department of Energy, there are an estimated 9,000 EVs and three hundred charging stations in the Philippines.”
Companies like Ayala Corp. are anxious to get into building the necessary EV Ecosystem to expand the limited charging stations in the country. But that is only one piece of the EV puzzle.
While it makes the front page with great pictures—and EV fires are much less frequent than with conventional vehicles—these fires are almost impossible to extinguish. Wall Street Journal, November 8, 2023: “Firefighters called to extinguish an electric-vehicle fire are discovering the surest approach is to stand back and watch it burn.” The only EV charging station I see all the time is on the fourth-floor parking at SMBF mall. I wonder if SM has a contingency plan for and after an EV fire at that structure.
Further, regardless of Francisco Motors’ optimism about entering the EV space, “Consumer Reports found that electric vehicles have almost 80 percent more problems and are “generally less reliable” than conventional internal combustion engine cars.”
Don’t misunderstand me. I want to and will own a “Tesla Model X Deep Blue Metallic with All-Wheel Drive and Seven Seats.” The future of the personal automobile is the EV. But that future is not yet here in the Philippines.
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