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


  1. Sir

    I'm very interested in becoming a tricycle operator due to this development. How do I get a loan from Landbank?

    please e-mail me ASAP at

    Thank you for helping our country.

  2. how much are this i hope boracay can have this soon!

  3. Hello!

    May I where did you buy your units, and cay you please tell the contact detail of the supplier like website. Thank you!

    If possible kindly send it to my email address

  4. Hi Ma'am, I'm studying the impact of ET3 and your other products on electric distribution transformer loading during charging.

    In your other post you wrote:

    PHUV batterys amp hour capacity rating is 220amp hrs. Since they have a 72volt system, they have 12 pcs of 6volt deep cycle batteries. That's 16000 watt hours or 16 kilowatt hours at P8 per kwhour (meralco rate with all the side charges) is equal to P128 or $2.8per 8 hour full charge. So if it runs for 65kms then that's 1.97 per km or 5 US cents per km.

    Can you please provide the same data for ET3? ZEV2400? ZEV2700? ZEV3600?

    Thank you po.


    1. Edwin, thanks for your input. Your numbers are not exactly correct since the charge for an Ejeepney averages only about 4 – 5 hours if charged correctly.

      The chargers are of less than 30 amps. ET3 uses a 10 amp charger while the motorbikes use 5 – 8 amps.

    2. Ma'am, thank you po for your inputs, just to clarify, I'm posting a table for your comments.

      EV Charging kW Charging Time
      E-Jeepney 16kW 4-5 hours
      ET3 3.75kW 45min-1 hour
      E-Bikes 1.5kW 45min-1 hour

      Again, thanks for your quick response.


  5. Hi Edwin,
    This is our experience in real life since we use these vehicles every day, we also charge them often when needed.

    EV Charging kW Charging Time
    E-Jeepney 16kW 4-5 hours
    ET3 3.75kW 4-5 hours
    E-Bikes 1.5kW 4-5 hours

  6. Hi Diane,

    Where can we source the etryc here in Metro Manila and how much per unit. Please email me in Thank you and best regards.


  7. hello!

    i am interested this ET3 design. can you provide for dumaguete city? how can we avail your product? pls email me: thank you and more power!

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  11. Hello Ms. Diana,

    We are an elderly couple and want to have one ET3. Magkano po ba? Pls email us at Thank you.


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