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Tesla in talks with Meralco

Officials of US electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc. will visit the Philippines next month to explore a partnership with Manila Electric Co., an official of the power retailer said over the weekend.

“We just had a first telecom. They’re  coming in a month or so… I’m sure we will talk about batteries. We just had an initial first call. They’re interested to come in and explore,” Meralco senior vice president and head of customer retail services and corporate communications Alfredo Panlilio told reporters.

Meralco launched its e-vehicle charging station at the Meralco compound in Pasig City in 2013. The company also introduced at that time the Tesla electric car priced at around P9 million to showcase e-vehicles in the country.

“It’s very initial discussions. We haven’t formed agenda. We will show them our charging stations. The prototype was two years ago and there’s no standard in charging,” Panlilio said.

Panlilio said Tesla, aside from being an electric car manufacturer, is also a battery company.  He said discussions would likely focus on electric battery.

“It’s still very open, but explore, maybe a potential business partnership. I would think it’s more of storage, batteries. That’s what they’re pushing hard now,” the Meralco official said.

Panlilio, however, said the success of the country’s e-vehicle program depended on certain factors.

“It depends on adoption of EV on a mass scale. It’s hard for us to drive it alone. But when adoption is there, we should be ready with charging stations. It’s an ecosystem we want to develop,” he said.

“We’ve been espousing about it—the charging stations.  It depends on government policies, how we can massively have more e-jeepneys. There’s a lot to do. It’s not a matter of if it will happen,” Panlilio said.

Panlilio said he was unsure whether talks would include possible partnership in batteries for solar projects.

“We just agreed they come over and have a visit. We haven’t come up with an agenda. But again, those are options,” he said.

Meralco plans to put up solar rooftop projects through Spectrum while Meralco’s power generation arm Meralco PowerGen Corp. is exploring opportunities in ground-mounted solar projects.

“Our job goes beyond traditional task of providing power. The Philippines has got to develop its own niche. We in Meralco will help propagate local manufacturing [of electric vehicles]. We’re prepared to invest and set up financing. We don’t want to import these vehicles,” Meralco chairman Manuel Pangilinan said during the launch of the charging station.

Meralco’s e-vehicle power station is  a technical pilot meant to give a signal to e-vehicle stakeholders that Meralco was prepared to support the industry’s requirements. 

It provides a test bed for Meralco’s business case premises and technical competencies in providing different charging technologies.

“We want to be instrumental in building the complete ecosystem for the expected influx of electric vehicles in the country. Meralco will assist in making the electric vehicle charging technology available to interested partner companies and priority sectors like public transport operators,” Panlilio said earlier.

Topics: US electric car maker , Tesla Motors Inc. , Manila Electric Co. , Meralco , electric battery
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