Living With An Electric Vehicle In The Philippines: Charging An EV
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Living With An Electric Vehicle In The Philippines: Charging An EV

We lived for a week with an electric vehicle to see whether it's difficult to live with one in the Philippines or not.

So, you’ve decided to make the switch towards an electric vehicle (EV), and the good news for you is, there are more charging stations than ever before, at least in Luzon. This is thanks to a few catalysts that enabled the country to start moving towards the EV age, namely the Electric Vehicle Industry Development Act (EVIDA) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) seeking to reduce or eliminate the tariffs on EVs and their parts.

Living With An Electric Vehicle In The Philippines: Charging An EV

With that said, owning an electric vehicle is still quite a huge leap from owning a car with an internal combustion engine (ICE), especially since you charge an EV rather than refuel it. In order to find out how easy or difficult it is to own an EV, we lived with one for nearly a week. Specifically, we lived with the 2023 BMW iX xDrive40, which is the German luxury automaker’s first EV riding on a dedicated EV platform that isn’t shared with any of the brand’s models with an internal combustion engine (ICE). So, with all of these details out of the way, let’s first talk about how it is to charge an EV.

1. AC Charging

2023 BMW iX Philippines

When you own an EV, most of your charging will probably be done via AC charging. AC, or alternating current, is considered to be either Level 1 or Level 2. Level 1 is when the EV is charged via a cable that’s connected to a simple 220-volt household outlet while Level 2 is when you use a wall box charger that’s also linked to a 40-amp circuit breaker. The latter is usually (but not always) included when you buy an EV.

In the case of the BMW iX, charging its 71 kWh (usable) battery pack from ten to full through a Level 1 charger would take more than 24 hours, while a Level 2 charger will bring this down to around 11 hours. At least in the BMW iX, the amperage needs to be set manually. For reference, Philippine sockets are rated up to 10 amps, and anything above that will destroy your house’s electric grid though not your EV’s internals. Thus, I set the BMW iX to charge via the household outlet at 9 amps when I charged it via the Level 1 charger.

2. DC Charging

2023 BMW iX Philippines

Charging via DC, or direct current is the fastest method to top up a vehicle’s battery. Since batteries are DC, there’s no more conversion from AC to DC, which is why this is the fastest way to charge. Whereas AC charging is considered as Level 1 or Level 2, DC is considered either Level 3 or Level 4, the latter of which does not yet exist in the Philippines.

For this example, we’ll be using the Level 3 180 kW DC fast charger that Shell Recharge in SLEX Mamplasan utilizes. DC fast chargers are also in constant communication with the car’s systems, and as a result, there’s no need to manually set anything through the infotainment. Shell Recharge’s DC fast charger is rated at 180 kW, while the BMW iX can only accept up to 150 kW, but as mentioned, the DC fast charger already knows this the moment that it’s connected to the iX.

With a DC fast charger at 150 kW, the BMW iX can charge from 10 to 80 percent in around 30 minutes. While you can charge it past 80 percent, you’ll be spending way too much money from charging by then since Shell charges you P65 per minute. That’s because the charge rate drastically slows down when the battery is at 80 percent to preserve battery life.

Speaking of battery degradation, this is why it isn’t recommended to always charge via DC. A study by Geotab says that after analyzing battery health for 48 months, charging via DC at least three times a month in seasonal or hot climates (like the Philippines) experienced 10 percent more battery degradation compared to those that didn’t use DC.

3. EV Charging Standards

Graphic provided by Aptiv

Say what now? Yes, just like your smartphone which has micro USB, Apple’s Lightning port, and USB-C, you also have to deal with different charging port standards in EVs. There are five combinations in total: CCS1 and Type 1 (North America), CCS2 and Type 2 (Europe), Type 1 and ChaDeMo (Japan), GB/T (China), and Tesla.

For now, the Philippines has not yet mandated a charging standard, but since luxury European brands dominate the local EV market, CCS2 and Type 2 are currently the most popular. The next two common standards are Japan’s ChaDeMo and Type 1, which is what you’ll find in cars like the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and Nissan Leaf, while China’s GB/T is what you’ll find in cars like the BYD Dolphin, Weltmeister W5, or the Chery Tiggo 8 Pro PHEV.

It also must be noted that none of these charging ports are universally compatible. For greater flexibility, having an adaptor on hand is the best way forward–especially if your EV doesn’t use CCS2 and Type 2.

4. Where To Charge Your EV?

2023 BMW iX Philippines SM EV Charging

Now that we’ve mentioned the different charging methods and charging port standards, where can you charge an EV? Fortunately, the Philippines is currently in the midst of an EV revolution, with EVIDA lapsing into law and NEDA aiming to reduce or eliminate tariffs on EVs altogether. As a result, this list of charging stations can and will definitely be updated in the coming years. For now, this is where you can charge your EV.

Land development companies and mall establishments like SM Malls and Ayala Land have spurred the development of electric vehicle charging stations within their residential areas and commercial developments. This is on top of companies like Shell, Solarius, and UniOil which now offer EV charging as well. Since many of you also have various charging needs, we’ll break down the list into AC and DC fast charging stations.

2023 BMW iX Philippines RSA Motors Greenhills Charging

It also must be noted that automakers also have EV charging facilities within their dealer network. These are often free for the customers to use. Brands like PGA Cars (Audi and Porsche), SMC Asia Car Distributors Corp. (BMW), Nissan, Weltmeister, and Mitsubishi, just to name a few have a few dealers where you can charge your EV or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

AC Charging Stations (Updated January 30,2023)

  • NCR
    • SM Aura, B1 Parking
    • SM City BF Parañaque
    • SM City Bicutan
    • SM City Fairview
    • SM City Grand Central
    • SM City Manila
    • SM City Marikina
    • SM City San Lazaro
    • SM City Sta. Mesa
    • SM City Valenzuela
    • SM Mall of Asia, 3rd Level North Parking Building
    • SM Megamall
    • SM North EDSA, 3rd Level North Parking Tower
    • SM Southmall
    • The Podium
    • Ayala Triangle Gardens Tower Two
    • Ayala Malls Vertis North
    • Circuit Makati
    • Seda Hotel BGC
    • Greenbelt
    • Glorietta
    • Alabang Town Center
    • Trinoma
    • Unioil EDSA Guadalupe
    • Unioil Congressional Avenue
    • Fairmont Makati
    • Robinsons Galleria
  • Luzon
    • SM City Baguio
    • Solaris One Baguio Technohub
    • Solenad, Nuvali (Laguna)
    • Laguna Technopark
    • Vermosa (Cavite)
    • Unioil Subic (soon to open)
    • ACEA Subic

DC Fast Charging (Updated November 29, 2022)

  • Luzon
    • Shell Recharged Mamplasan, SLEX Northbound

5. Cost Of Charging An EV

Most AC chargers that we’ve mentioned here are offered by Ayala, SM Malls, and Robinsons. These are mostly free, at least for now. By the time these mall chargers are fully operational, they said that these chargers won’t anymore be offered for free. With this in mind, charging via your own household grid is the cheapest, and believe it or not, it’s way cheaper than filling up with gas, too.

With the BMW iX, I was usually able to charge for 8 hours and add 20 percent to the battery capacity. That’s about 14.2 kWh added to the battery pack and with Meralco’s October 2022 rate of P9.8628/kWh, that equated to an estimated cost of P140.05 for an added range of 59.2 km. A full charge from ten to 100 percent, therefore, should cost no more than P700 when charging at home. That certainly beats fuelling up with today’s high gas prices.

Charging via DC, however, is quite expensive, though still less than filling up with gas. As mentioned, Shell Recharge Mamplasan’s usage rate is P65 per minute, which is why it’s advisable to charge an EV up to 80 percent only via this method. Otherwise, you’d be spending way too much time and money for the privilege, not to mention the added battery degradation that comes with it. For the charge from 10 to 80 percent, that will cost you P1,950.

For now, this article only covers where and how to charge an EV. We’ll continue with this series by talking about the maintenance and battery replacement costs of an EV and whether it’s more expensive than an ICE vehicle in the coming months as more EVs pour into the Philippine market.

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