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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Jeepney - only in the Philippines


When you say “Jeepney”,  it means only one place --- Philippines. Jeepney is a Filipino innovative public utility vehicle (PUV) and the most popular means of public transportation in the country though it come in many variants. They are dubbed as the "King of the Road" and known for their crowded seating and flamboyant decorations, which have become a ubiquitous symbol of Philippine culture and art.  However, this transportation is proof of the Filipinos’ creativity and ability to improvise technology into more useful forms.

History

When American troops began to leave the Philippines at the end of WWII, hundreds of surplus jeeps were sold or given to the Filipinos. The jeeps were stripped down and altered by the locals; metal roofs were added for shade; and they decorated the vehicles with vibrant colors with chrome-plated ornaments on the sides and hood. They reconfigured the back seat into two long parallel benches with passengers facing each other to accommodate more passengers. Its size, length and passenger capacity had increased as it evolved though the years.These were classified as passenger-type jeeps. The non-extended, original-seat configuration jeeps were labeled owners, short for owner-type jeeps, and are used non-commercially. The original jeepneys were refurbished military jeeps by Willys & Ford. Modern jeepneys are now produced with surplus engines and parts coming from Japan.

Manufacturers

Unfinished jeepney in Sarao Motors Assembly Area ( 06-27-2013)
The brand name that has actually come to mean jeepney is Sarao, the company that first started making them in 1953 and became famous the world over for doing so. Before the growth of backyard builders, Sarao Motors and Francisco Motors, both in Las Piñas were the largest manufacturers of jeepneys. Other current independently owned small jeepney workshops and factories include Tandenrich Motors (Nagcarlan, Laguna), Armak Motors (San Pablo, Laguna), Celestial Motors (San Pablo, Laguna), Hebron Motors, LGS Motors, Malagueña (Imus City), Mega (Lipa City), and Morales Motors (San Mateo, Rizal. Another manufacturer, PBJ Motors, manufactured jeepneys in Pampanga using techniques derived from Sarao Motors. Armak now sells remanufactured trucks and vehicles as an adjunct, alongside its jeepneys. The largest manufacturer of vintage-style army jeepneys is MD Juan.

In the central island of Cebu, the bulk of jeepneys are built from second-hand Japanese trucks, originally intended for cargo. These are euphemistically known as "surplus" trucks. Popular jeepney manufacturers in Cebu are Chariot and RDAK, known for its "flat-nosed" jeepneys made from surplus Suzuki minivans and Isuzu Elf trucks, which are no longer in use in Japan. These are equipped with high-powered sound systems, racing themes, and are allegedly bigger and taller than those in Manila.

In Iloilo City, jeepneys called passad are known for being replicas of sedans or pickup trucks. The vehicles' body has a much lower profile which resembles more of a sedan chassis with an elongated body.
Nelson type jeepneys are manufactured in Davao City and are known there as "uso-uso". The designs of these jeepneys are very different from the traditional style. These jeepneys feature modern front grille and body designs, lowered ride height, and industrial quality paint jobs. Newer models of Nelson type jeepneys feature chrome wheels, equipped with radial tubeless tires.

Many local manufacturers are moving to build modern-looking jeepneys such as Hummer-look-alikes and oversized Toyota van-style passenger jeepneys with Toyota headlights, hoods and bumpers. Manufacturers in Nueva Ecija also started making jeepneys with fronts resembling AUVs like the Honda CR-V or the Toyota Tamaraw.

Jeepney's Unique and Attractive Design

Jeepney's typical interior decorations
What makes these Philippine jeepneys attractive are the decorations that adorn its exterior and interior. The various ornaments used include moving horse figurines, flags, colorful and blinking lights, mirrors, paintings and stickers with various sayings ranging from the funny to the serious ones. Stereos that play loud music are another attraction in the PUJs which many young passengers go for. Other improvisations have also been made such as buttons on the interior’s walls which passengers have to push to make the driver stop the jeepney. Sometimes, the pushing of the button will coincide with the blinking of a light or a sound that will alert the driver. If not a push button, a string to be pulled is another way of making the PUJ stop once reaching your destination.

Future of Jeepney

Recently, the jeepney industry has faced threats to its survival in its current form. Most of the larger builders have gone bankrupt or have switched to manufacturing other products because of the economic situation, with the smaller builders, forced to go out of business. Jeepneys are now facing stiff competition against other transportation modes such as taxis, buses, rapid transits and other. Passenger jeepneys are also facing increasing restrictions and regulations for pollution control, as they increase traffic volume and consume lots of fuel. Thus, jeepney manufacturers think of jeepney designs that meet the current trend in Filipino society today especially environmental and economical concerns.

Jeepney generations can be classified according to structural and design enhancements. 
  • Second Generation: Fully assembled from refurbished engines, some also have air-conditioning units, most popularly in Makati City. Most of these jeepneys have radically expanded passenger capacities, and are flamboyant and noisy. Many jeeps from this generation are notorious for belching smoke and almost all run on diesel fuel.
  • Third Generation: These are jeepneys manufactured using new engine components. Many of these come with improved air-conditioning and closely resemble a minibus.
  • Future generations: Here, E-jeepneys comes into play. The E-jeepney, short for electrical jeepney, was the brainchild of Green Renewable Independent Power Producers, Inc. or GRIPP in partnership with Mr Robert Puckett, President of Solar Electric Company in the Philippines. Primary manufacturer of e-jeepneys in the Philippines is the PhUV Inc ., the business arm of the Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturers Assn. of the Phils. (MVPMAP). It is equipped with either a 5 kW, 72-volt electric motor or a 7 kW, 84-volt one, either with or without transmission, with front end (hood & fender) or none, side or rear entry and front-facing or center-facing rear seats. It is the first electric vehicle granted an orange license plate by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to operate on Philippine roads. 
Though jeepneys come in many types, its uniqueness poses a great symbol of Filipino innovative mind.

            http://www.reuters.com
            http://laspinascity.gov.ph
            http://www.greatoffers4u.com
Photo Credit: http://www.jeepneygang.com
                    http://www.imagephilippines.com
                    Sarao Motors-Jeepney facebook page

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