How a Japanese Company is Helping Improve E-Tricycles in the Philippines

Born and raised in Tondo Manila, I practically grew up riding the tricycle. And even when I was already studying at the Ateneo, the tricycle was still my primary means of getting around my university or entering it from Katipunan Avenue.

Needless to say, the traditional Pinoy tricycle is very close to my heart. And I don't think I'll ever be able to deny being all too familiar with the noise, smell, and feeling that comes with riding this Philippine road icon.

That's why - a couple of years ago - when I first learned that electricity-powered tricycles or E-Trikes are now poised to replace the traditional ones running on gasoline, the feeling was bittersweet. I felt sad because I know that the trike as I know it is ever slowly fading away. But I also felt happy because I know that the refresh comes with many benefits -- especially to our environment.

eTrike Philippines, eTricycle, eTrike, GMS, MCCU

Yesterday at the Makati Shangrila Hotel in Makati City, I met Mr. Kazumasa Nakashima - Manager of Philippines Representative Office of GMS (shown left, on the photo above), and Mr. Tokushi Nakashima - President/CEO of Global Mobility Service during the media launch of the company's Mobile Communication Control Unit (MCCU) for E-Tricycles in the Philippines.

Being a former head of an ETrike manufacturing company himself, Mr. Tokushi Nakashima is well aware of the many benefits of the innovative public transport vehicle. He shared, "[E-Trikes are not noisy, they are economical, and they don't emit smoke so they are very easy on the environment.]" But he is also no stranger to the challenges that ETrike operators face on a daily basis.

eTrike Philippines, eTricycle, eTrike, GMS, MCCU

Global Mobility Service's upcoming Mobile Communication Control Unit (MCCU) - as its very name suggests - gives operators more control over their E-Trikes even while the units are with their drivers or on the road. Connected to the vehicle's main processing unit, MCCU lets anyone remotely stop a moving E-Trike or start it simply by sending a text message -- with other functionality coming soon.

The Japanese company didn't really disclose the exact benefit of having such system but I think this can greatly help operators monitor the location and condition of their ETricycles and avoid untoward situations that can be brought by undisciplined drivers. For instance (and this is an extreme case), if a driver steals a unit, the operator can simply send a text message to prevent the unit from being started and for the control center - stationed in Japan - to track its location.

eTrike Philippines, eTricycle, eTrike, GMS, MCCU

As of writing, GMS hasn't announced the pricing details and availability of MCCU -- but according to them, they are now talking to all major ETrike manufacturers in the Philippines including eMotors, Teco, and Kia and the feedback is largely positive. Once their partnership has been sealed, operators should be able to purchase E-Tricycles with pre-installed mobile communication control unit within the next two years.

eTrike Philippines, eTricycle, eTrike, GMS, MCCU

"I wish that more Filipinos will have better lives," Mr. Tokushima Nakashima told me during the event. And I believe that statement reflects one of his objectives for introducing the innovative product to the Philippine E-Trike industry. He also told me that the Philippines is the first country to get this technology from his company as he believes that Pinoys can greatly benefit from it amidst our growing economic landscape.  It's very inspiring -- and I think that if we have more people with such vision for this sector, the future can only get better.