Thursday, May 26, 2016

A love affair with EVs and solar energy

Dave Dewbres' love affair with EVs and solar energy.

Dave on his touring bike in Tucson, AZ. At that time he was CEO of his own corporation, Digital Web Group, Inc.
Dave on his gas touring bike
in Tucson, AZ. 
Chronologically it all started in Tucson, Arizona. He already had a love of regular gas motorcycles. He loved the big touring bikes, being 6' feet tall. When he moved to the foothills of the Sta. Catalina and Rincon mountains in 2003, electric motorcycles were the latest thing and he decided to check them out.

He ordered a 3000 watt electric touring bike, and the love affair with electric vehicles began. This essay will be mostly in photos, as that is what I do.

Dave enjoying his pool in AZ.
Sta. Catalina mountains in back.
He lived at the foothills of two mountain ranges in Tucson. The Sta. Catalina and the Rincon mountains. It was an easy ride up either from his home. So much power beneath him, with no sound but the tires on the road, gave him a thrill he still experiences when driving his electric vehicles, currently on his farm lot in Palawan. He proceeded to order 2 more for backups so he could promptly tear the first one apart to see how it worked!

When he got the first electric motorcycle, he was CEO of his own corporation, Digital Web Group, Inc., a company selling online retail niché market products. One of which he himself designed out of his love for music and riding this motorcycles, the "DWG Waterproof Motorcycle speaker kit". If he got caught in the rain, he could still listen to his tunes! The amplifier of course was protected from the elements.

He was also flying high from the company's first product launch, an almost
Dave Dewbre, CEO and
Diana Limjoco, CFO
Digital Webgroup, Inc.
overnight sensation and had unprecedented continued, and remarkable sales. Then the waterproof speakers took off and he was one of 3 makers of such speakers in the world. His were for the masses of motorcycle enthusiasts who couldn't afford the $500.00 price tag of the higher end speakers, but the sound from his speakers was more than sufficient for most users.

Dave's partner at the time, shareholder/CFO of their company, was a FilAm woman, Diana J. Limjoco. The company was being run completely online from their main Stores, Virtual office to bookkeeping systems,  except for the shipping department, they found they could run the business even while on trade shows or side trips.

In 2005 she suggested they head over to the Philippines to visit her parents, then in their late 80's. So they did.  The long and short of it is that he fell in love with the Philippines and wound up living in Subic Freeport, high up in the pristine hills of the Kalayaan Housing area. He would divide his time between Subic and Tucson, enjoying his electric bikes in both places.

Dave with 7 month old
daughter, Alysha.
In Subic, he saw an Ad for electric motorbikes, much smaller than the one he had back in the US. He liked that he could drive around the beautiful forests and housing areas and not disturb anyone with the sounds of a gas bike. He wound up ordering 3 again, took one apart as well.

He expanded his company to include web page development with local talent while simply enjoying and learning all about the ins and outs of these electric motorbikes.

Dave began helping his supplier improve the bikes, making his own adjustments and fixes for his own use. He wound up knowing more about the bike than the supplier and later went to the factory in China to work with the engineers to add his ideas for safety and performance.

Then Mayor Edward Hagedorn in the new ET2
etrike with sidecar. Dave Dewbre driving.
In 2009 an associate brought him to Puerto Princesa, Palawan to meet then Mayor Edward Hagedorn, who had developed the Philippine's first electric tricycle using a traditional side car attached an electric motorbike, with a partner who unfortunately passed away before the etrike could be perfected. Dave brought in one of the same 3000 watt electric motorcycles he used in Arizona to attach to a side car. He found people to help him attach it to an old and heavy side car typically used in Puerto Princesa. It passed the test. Even the steepest hills could not slow this eT2 prototype version down. It was the cheapest, fastest and most user friendly solution for the trike drivers, many of whom never got out of high school. And it worked! Eventually this trike was used for city business and it put on over 30,000 kilometers.

Mayor Edward Hagedorn driving the eT2
eletric tricycle.
Dave feels it still is the easiest solution.  The drivers are apt to try to fix things themselves in the provinces. When Dave had his service and sales shop in Puerto Princesa, when the electric bikes would come in for repairs, it was mainly from operator ignorance of a simple solution like a blown fuse, to cutting wires (which had plugs to easily remove or attach) and tried to fix them or local mechanics who had never seen such a thing, but would jerry rig it anyway.  The electric trikes plying the streets of Manila are way to complicated for provincial drivers and also very much more expensive for initial cost as well as down the road expenses to replace the many batteries need for the fancy eTrikes with Unibodies.

eT3 etrike prototype.

Dave relocated to Puerto Princesa in 2009 and mid 2010 he opened up a test electric vehicle sales and repair shop called the GreenTech Eco Center, and was given the job of maintaining the City's collection of etrikes, an electric jeepney by PHUV, plus two other electric open buses.  In that time he learned all the intricacies of electric vehicle sales, repair and back end customer support. Not long after, Mayor Hagedorn had seen the fancy electric trikes from PHUV plying the streets of Taguig, and fell in love with their look. Dave, being the gung ho chap that he is, and wanting to know everything about this industry, flew to China and had a prototype made mainly to test the motors. The e-vehicles the Mayor bought from other manufacturers could not take the wear and tear but mainly the steep slopes in the outskirts of Puerto Princesa city.

This new 3000 watt motor pulled the new test body, filled to capacity up any hill the commercial trikes would ply. The mayor fell in love with the speed at 75 KMS with the slightest nudge it would turn on a dime and was easy to drive. So easy that Dave had another one made so his female partner could drive one around town. (Not much traffic then).

He had safety features like the vehicle would not move forward if the hand break was on. He learned this when kids got in the eT3 at night and turned the handle while playing. He would leave the engine on, which you couldn't hear, so he could eat his dinner while at his favorite restaurant Kina Buch and enjoy the blue LED lights which rimmed it. With the handbreak kill switch not allowing the trike to move forward, the unit was much safer.

3000 watt electric motorcycle with two
eT3 electric trikes lit up at night!
Unfortunately after driving the units daily everywhere he could, Dave deemed the body unsafe for ordinary trike drivers because of the blind spots and also knowing they would be overloaded and people could possibly fall out. He refused to sell these particular units to the city. Instead he worked with a local mechanic, and body shop, William Russel on a design that would accommodate more passengers with room for luggage or small cargo.

The eT4 electric tricycle
This unit was called the eT4. Dave had the prototype made by William, the motors tested by Dave. This was also a test to see if he could provide a livelihood to local by making more grass roots type units whose bodies at least could be easily assembled. This unit still works to this day. This body could also be easily upgraded to a more fancy fiberglass version.

This project was never completed for many reasons. One being that the Mayor's term was coming to an end, and the corruption in BOC with them charging more than 400% the value of parts coming in to make more units. LTO's arbitrary charges for registering the units, which he found out when he went to register 20 electric motorcycles with them and each registration was a different cost, even though they were consecutive models. All this was very disgusting and discouraging to Dave. How can you turn a profit when all these undocumented expenses were being extorted?

He closed his test shop, bought a farm lot in Luzviminda, and concentrated his efforts in building a life and home there. He put his skills to work installing solar electricity so he could tolerate the many blackouts PALECO has almost every day. He also loves to go out on native bancas, and he has one banca whose fishing lights are totally solar.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

C Magazine May 2013 Exclusive Feature

Pick up May 2013 Issue of C! Magazine
the automotive authority

Dave Dewbre's  (Electric vehicle consultant) electric tricycle project is the Exclusive feature. It's showcasing Mayor Edward Hagedorn's pioneering etrike projects for clean air since 2006 and how Dave took Hagedorn's lead and developed 6 different prototypes for different terrains and load.

Pick up May issue of C! Magazine, the automotive authority to read the rest of the story! There are 4 more pages of story and photos.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

DOE, ADB unveil mock-up E-tricycle prototype

DOE, ADB unveil mock-up E-tricycle prototype
By Neil Jerome C. Morales (The Philippine Star) Updated October 03, 2012 12:00 AM

"MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have come up with a mock-up prototype E-tricycle that will be manufactured under the government’s $500-million E-trike program.

The Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (EVAP), for its part, said it is willing to join the rollout of the E-trike program.

To facilitate public inspection, the DOE and ADB unveiled the mock up prototype."

Read the full article here:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

President Benigno Aquino supports EV's

Feb 9, 2011
Mayor Edward Hagedorn of Puerto Princesa City Palawan, took the opportunity of President Aquino's visit to the PPC Underground River to introduce us as his Electric Trike Makers. PNoy voiced his total approval of all the EV projects going on in the Philippines right now, as a step in the right direction for our country's air and for the planet in General!
L to R: Dave Dewbre, Diana Limjoco, Mayor Hagedorn, President Benigno Aquino III

Friday, January 14, 2011

Electric Vehicle for mother and daughter

It's really fun watching our 3 year old daughter Alysha take to her electric car. We both drive around the lot to get her more exprience and practice whenever we go to work at our Green Tech Eco Center together.  At least she is learning that mama and papa are walking their talk about helping to preserve the clean air in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines.

Diana J. Limjoco and Alysha Ariela at Green Tech EcoCenter, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines
My electric trike is 3000 watts. It has no problem towing Dave's rig, which I had to do once when a loose wire made his etrike lose power! I really didn't even feel any strain on my rig! It goes 70 KpH but I drive at a steady 55 and my power lasts longer. Dave and I have been driving our eTrikes full time every day for going on a year now. I can't imagine what it was like before them. I love being able to save thousands of pesos every week on gasoline by not filling up our Ford Expedition, plus it's so much easier to navigate the narrow and congested roads here.

My eT3 electric tricycle and Alysha's electric toy car! Well one has to start somewhere, she's only 3 years old after all!

You can see I am a happy and proud mom.

This is the other sustainable mode of transportation in the provinces here. It is quite common to see caravans of two to 5 sets of water buffalos heading down the national highway, which is where this was taken off of.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Virtual Etrike ride to Honda Bay,Puerto Princesa, Palawan

A virtual electric trike ride to Honda Bay pier, Puerto Princesa, Palawan Philippines. From the pier you take a motorized boat to the various islands.  Filmed by Diana J. Limjoco, soundscore and editing by Toné McGuire.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pros and Cons of Electric trike conversions

ET3 35 kilometers from home 1 way.
With the advent of 280 Million USD being made available by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to convert gasoline powered tricycles to electric, there's been a scramble for Philippine cities to convert the gas tricycles ZEV's or Zero Emmission Vehicles. Here are my own personal notes as an etrike user.

Dave and I have been driving an electric tricycle as our main means of transportation since February 2010. We have been in research and development with them since then as well. There is no way I would go back to all gasoline car after enjoying the e-Vehicles. If we could make them go longer distances it would be better still.

The prototype we use daily is called ET3 (electric trike 3). It has a 3000 watt motor. It can seat three people in the back easily. Hills are also no problem for this unit. The tallest hill we have to climb is called Bakers Hill. I'd say it's approximately a 45 degree incline. My ET3 has no problems going up it, even with three people in the back.
Mayor Edward Hagedorn on ET3

Aside from the noiseless and emmission free ride, what I love most is that I have been able to save at least 3500. PHP per week in gasoline. This is what it used to cost to drive our Expedition the comparable miles or kilometers we drive in our daily lives.

The ET3 goes approximately 100 kilometers in distance. Generally I use it all day doing errands in town. ET3 It has deep cycle, closed cell batteries, they prefer being charged before being totally drained. So if I have a short run to town, say a round trip of about 10 kilometers, I charge it when I get home, then unplug it if we go to town again for dinner. When we get home from dinner, I plug it in overnight and then it's ready to go again the next day.

The cost to charge the 3KW unit is approximately 30.00 Php per day. We charge two units every night or during the day in between runs, and frankly, I can't really see the difference in our electric bill.

At the showroom we charge 4 units for the city, and two  other 3000 watt units. One of the city's Ejeepney's has a 7000 watt motor. We run an air conditioner all day when at the office and the bill there runs about 3500. PHP per month. Charging all of them is less than the cost of a week of running to the farm in our Expedition.

Dave Dewbre and guests on ET3
We put the 1500 watt electric motorbikes on a dedicated meter and the cost of running them is about 13.50 PHP for 60 kilometers. Keep in mind, the costs will vary from city to city. Puerto Princesa's electricity, I believe, is one of the highest in the country.

I think one of the biggest hurdles is the up front cost. People somehow have it in their minds that an electric vehicle should be cheaper than a gasoline run one. This is simply not possible yet.

But basically here is a simplistic calculation to go by. If you spend 10,000. PhP per month in gasoline, at the end of a year you will have spent 120,000. PhP.  Now that's a lot of dough in gasoline!

To charge an electric tricycle is approximately 800.00 PhP per month, at the end of the year you will have spent 9600.00 PHP.  Now I'm no mathematical genius, but I believe that is a savings, put back into your pocket of 110,400.00 PHP per year!
Diana Limjoco with Alysha and her
elctric car. We are the first all electric
vehicle family in the Philippines.
Click photo to enlarge
 The disadvantage of an etrike is that you cannot overload them like you can a gasoline engine. The electric motors are not as forgiving. Plus most units do not exceede 100 kms in distance. We watched one motor burn up last February (not our brand) when it was pushed over it's limit on an extremely steep hill.

Overloading the units with too many passengers will also cause the distance to dwindle. Driving the units too fast or "goosing" them like a gas motor, will cause them batteries to discharge faster as well.

In most Philippine cities they have what they call boundaries or routes. My suggestion is to replace the gas trikes with electric ones and set the boundaries a little below the limits of the units. You just know these trike drivers are going to push the envelope.

2 eTrikes and Dave's 5000 watt
electric motorbike. Click photo to
The other very important factor in conversion to electric trikes would be an extensive training period that should be required before the drivers take possession of the units. The drivers need to be taught the many variables in passsengers loads etc.
Once so many hundreds are rolled out across the nation, there is the problem of parts and service. We intend to train people as we build so they will develop the skills to weld, build the fiberglass bodies, install and repair the motors etc. We will be working with the local technical institutions who are providing OJT's. At the end of this training they will be able to branch off on their own. With the help of Micro Financing, they should be able to open up their own repair shops and provide any after market accessories each trike driver, I am sure will want to add on later. This would be a good template for the other cities or entrepreneurs to follow. Without proper training in the serivice area, the plan to replace all the gas trikes will create more problems down the road for the end user. I speak from my own experience.

We have electric motorcycles out in town, and when they bring them in for repair, its almost always operator error. And worse, they have tried to fix them on their own by cutting wire or removing parts they don't understand, compounding the problem.

It's not just a matter of converting gas trikes. It's not that easy. It's also a matter of re-educating the drivers. Without doing this, I am afraid the conversion will be more problematic in the long run. And this, is a monumental task on it's own, given that most drivers have not even gone to high school.
Dave on ET3 with 11 children riding
at the Baywalk.

As part of our public education, Dave and I do take the ET3's to the Baywalk on week end evenings when we can. We have loaded them up with 11 to 12 children and we take them up and down the length of the Baywalk. I can feel the burden on the units, but they still perform well. However, when driving home, the battery guage is inevitably much lower than had I just run to town on my own.

Related Articles:

DoE Targets Tricycles to Run on Electricity

ADB offers $280-million loan for e-bikes