US-BASED Envirotech Vehicles, Inc. (EVT) is investing $80 million in a manufacturing plant in the Clark Freeport Zone that will allow the local assembly of electric vehicles as it moves to expand its market presence.

“It is an ongoing cost, so the more we manufacture, the more we do. But the initial investment that we have scheduled right now to build a plant is an $80 million investment over the course of about four years,” EVT President and Chief Executive Officer Phillip Oldridge told reporters on the sidelines of a press conference in Taguig City on Tuesday.

Mr. Oldridge said the electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer is planning to build its facility on 15,000 to 20,000 square meters of land in Clark. It targets to begin construction by October this year.

“We’re hoping to have that entire facility completely finished and up and functioning by December 2025,” he said.

While waiting for the plant’s completion, Mr. Oldridge said that EVT signed a two-year lease agreement with Berthaphil, Inc., a real estate developer in Clark, for the temporary location of its facility. The agreement could be prolonged into five years.

“Right now, we’re going to start the temporary locations and we’re going to use those locations and convert those into parks and parks storage afterwards. And then we’re going to build out a manufacturing facility,” he said.

“Our company is now incorporated, it’s all registered. We are ready to go,” he added.

According to Mr. Oldridge, the planned manufacturing facility will generate around 800 direct jobs spread over three areas: manufacturing, green energy, and technology.

“Indirectly, you’ll probably create another 250 to 400 jobs as we outsource things like tires, brakes, wheels, and wiring harnesses,” he added.

“You’ll have a capacity of about 2,100 vehicles a year. We manufacture classes three, four, five, and six trucks. We also manufacture Class A, B, and C school buses. So up to 84 passengers and school buses and all of those vehicles are electric,” Mr. Oldridge said.

Senate President Juan Miguel F. Zubiri said in the same event that EVT’s plan for local assembly helps the country’s move to modernize public utility vehicles (PUVs).

“With EVT’s operations here, we can really take advantage of the local production of EVs and EV parts for our modernization efforts. This will be a cheaper, quicker, and overall more sustainable way of implementing our PUV modernization,” Mr. Zubiri said.

“On top of EVT being instrumental in greening our transport sector, its EVs will also be a welcome reprieve to rising fuel costs,” he added.

Meanwhile, Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said the entry of EVT boosts the country’s push for EVs.

“Today’s signing of the lease agreement of EVT marks an important first step in our efforts to develop the EV industry in the Philippines and advance the country’s goal of becoming the regional hub for manufacturing,” Mr. Diokno said.

“There is no better time to set up shop in the Philippines than now,” he said, adding that the government is ready to facilitate EVT’s establishment of a manufacturing plant in Clark.

Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said that EVT could benefit from the country’s big market, while also tapping the markets of neighboring countries.

“The important thing that you should keep in mind while you’re putting up the manufacturing facilities in Clark, and you have a big market to serve in the Philippines, is that there is a much bigger market around us,” Mr. Pascual said.

He said as part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Philippines’ market is the bloc’s 10 members “because we enjoy free trade agreements with all these countries.”

“We have of course a bigger grouping, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which adds five more countries in the regional bloc. So that’s your whole market for EVs,” he added. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave