Solar jeepneys will soon ply the streets

The days of the smoke-belching, diesel-fueled jeepneys will soon be a thing of the past with the arrival of solar-powered vehicles that are expected to make their debut in the next few months.

Star8, an innovative Australian company, has come up with its own version of a jeepney that is hoped to replace the iconic Filipino mode of transportation.

Longer and wider than its ageing counterpart, the solar jeep can sit 22 people comfortably and features private fans, WiFi, USB slots and DVD.

Each jeepney costs around R1.2 million and has a maximum speed of 45 kilometer per hour.

It is designed by Jacob Maimon, a 47-year-old Australian inventor and chief executive officer of Star8.

Maimon has entered into an agreement with the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers of the Philippines (FEJODAP) to build 50,000 units which his company hopes to accomplish in two years.

“We are building a plant in Las Piñas next month that will employ around 100 to start production,” said Maimon. “We intend to deliver 250 in the first month of production.”

He said the plant can produce 25 jeepneys a day.

Maimon said he was inspired to design the jeepney after falling in love with the country.

“I love the Philippines. The people are warm and nice. My family intends to stay here permanently,” said Maimon who has a wife and four children back home in Melbourne.

The first time he rode the jeepney two years ago, Maimon felt sorry for the commuters.

“It was too hot, noisy and uncomfortable,” he recalled.

Yesterday, Maimon presented a prototype of the solar jeepney which has five solar panels on its roof. It was shipped from its production plant in Vietnam.

The demonstration was held in Molino, Cavite.

The jeepney runs even at night because its full-charged batteries can go 100 kilometers.

“It can also be run by electricity,” Maimon said.

The Australian inventor also disclosed that he has also entered a deal with the local government of Bacoor, Cavite.

“Strike (Revilla, Bacoor mayor) has ordered 2,000 trikes to replace the tricycles in his city,” he said.

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