January 14, 2008


I am a bit late in writing about the “One Lakh Car,” mildly amusing to me as I have been tracking the progress of this car for quite some time now—it’s been a lazy beginning of the New Year…

One Lakh = 100,000 rupees = $2500 = PHP 100,750 = CHEAP. It is powered by an anemic 623 cc engine, which is redeemed by an untested but promising 50 miles to the gallon. At PHP 339,000 with an 800 cc engine, the Chery QQ is hardly a worthy competitor. As far as I know, TATA has no present plans to bring this to the Philippines, probably a good thing as I have yet to see a single QQ along the streets of Makati.

A cheap car to the masses is probably not the best solution for the Philippines. While I envision a future where all Filipinos have some mode of personal transportation and an even shorter-term future where Filipinos have a fairly reliable and environmentally friendly public transportation infrastructure, it is just too easy to get a vehicle in this country. Worse, there are minimal regulations that protect us from vehicles that pollute or are in a state of disrepair. If we want to make a sizeable impact on the environment and more importantly, the health and safety of our public, the government needs to find a suitable alternative to the polluting jeeps and buses, while regulating vehicles on our roads. Subsiding more efficient engines/promoting the use of ethanol (looks grim for the electric jeepney), regulating vehicles beyond a certain age, limiting vehicle registration through taxation, there are quite a few different ways of attack. Unfortunately it requires a bit of political will. I like to hope for the best.

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