Elmer Francisco, scion of the famed jeepney manufacturers in Las Pinas, is resurrecting the family’s business, undeterred by the betrayal by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Board of Investments about two decades ago.
Recalling the disappointment caused by the government’s favoritism towards others, Francisco expressed his frustration, saying: “Nakakadismaya talaga when my own government, kinampihan pa yung iba. Hindi man lang tinignan ang epekto nito sa local employment. Pero hindi ko talaga makaya Makita na naghihirap ang mga kasamahan ko… Kapag maraming tao ang umaasa sa iyo, it will give you the strength to move forward.”
Amidst the country’s push for modernizing public utility vehicles, Elmer Francisco Motor Corporation (eFMC) was established to set up an electric jeepney manufacturing plant within an ecozone in Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte.
The plant is expected to be operational in six to eight months, although the original property in Las Pinas, where the old plant stood, is no longer available and has been leased out.
The strategic location within an ecozone provides eFMC access to incentives like duty-free importation of capital equipment and income tax holidays. Francisco remains undeterred by the province’s inconsistent power supply since being outside of Metro Manila allows them to establish microgrids for their energy requirements.
The Franciscos plan to invest $1.5 billion in the first year, with a long-term vision of investing a total of $15 billion over the next 10 years, aiming to manufacture and assemble all parts locally. This marks a departure from the previous practice of sourcing engines from Isuzu and Mazda.
The venture into electric vehicles comes at a crucial time when the government seeks to replace old traditional jeepneys with more energy-efficient alternatives, making it an opportune investment.
“That’s over 200,000 units,” he said as he highlighted the potential demand.
However, the main hurdle in the PUV modernization program is the substantial cost of replacing existing units, requiring operators and drivers to commit hefty monthly sums of P30,000 to P35,000. As a result, few are willing to take on such financial risk.
Another challenge is the availability of parts for the new vehicles, an aspect that eFMC intends to address as part of its revitalization efforts.
Francisco takes immense pride in the endurance of their products, evident in still-operational decades-old Anfra units, reflecting the family’s commitment to craftsmanship.
Francisco emphasized that government incentives, akin to those provided to major players like Toyota Motors Philippines Corp. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., will be vital in reducing costs for operators and drivers to make this vision a reality.