Americas Business News

California firm, Ayala group ink pact on e-motorcycles; Marcos secures $1.3 B investment pledges

By Claire Morales True, Managing Editor

WASHINGTON D.C. – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.  witnessed the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between Integrated Micro-Electronics Inc. of the Ayala Group and California-based Zero Motorcycles on a partnership to manufacture electric motorcycles.

Under the partnership, the California firm will lead the way in setting up the first electronic vehicle (EV) motorcycle manufacturing site in the Philippines, the Presidential Communications Office reported.

IMI will assemble Zero’s electric motorcycle models and other assemblies in its facility in Laguna in conjunction with the manufacturing facilities for Zero in California.

The IMI-ZERO operations is a pioneering activity for the Philippines for the assembly of an electric motorcycle platform. It is expected to employ 200 workers for its assembly line, from manufacturing , packing and shipping 18,000 EVs per year.

The cooperation agreement has a projected amount of US$ 65M. The activity is also seen to support the Philippines’ development of its electric vehicle ecosystem.

The US-based company will take the lead in establishing the first electronic vehicle (EV) motorcycle manufacturing site in the Philippines.

During the meeting, Zero said the Philippines is a “clear choice” for its operations as the firm aims to globalize its manufacturing business, targeting Europe, Asia and other markets, while supporting US demands for sub-assemblies.

“The Philippines… for us [is] a perfect partner for us to expand our manufacturing. This is a good place for us to build a global manufacturing base,” a representative of Zero said.

IMI said it is uniquely positioned to have both the competency of electronics manufacturing as well as bike assembly under one roof.

Zero’s electric motorcycles will be made available in 2024 through AC Industrials.

IMI said it is uniquely positioned to have both the competency of electronics manufacturing as well as bike assembly under one roof.

IMI provides global manufacturing solutions, including innovative electronics manufacturing services (EMS) and power semiconductor assembly and test services (SATS) for diversified markets such as those in the automotive, industrial, aerospace, and other industries.

It supports the electronics manufacturing for the electric vehicle ecosystem from the vehicle itself to its charging infrastructure.

Joining the President in the business meeting were Speaker Martin Romualdez, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual, Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla, and Special Assistant to the President Secretary Antonio Lagdameo Jr.

Among those who attended the meeting for the IMI include Ayala Corporation chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel De Ayala and Automotive and Industrial regional manager Dave Corry.

Zero Motorcycles, on the other hand, were represented by its chief executive officer Sam Paschel and Alex Acket, chief operating officer.

Concluding his five-day working visit in Washington D.C. later, President Marcos Jr. said his trip to the United States has yielded at least US$1.3 billion (P71.8 billion) worth of investment pledges that have the potential to create about 6,700 new jobs for Filipinos.

In his post-visit report, Marcos said he was able to entice numerous American business groups to either expand their operations or create new ventures in the Philippines, noting that these investment pledges are a sign of trust and confidence in doing business in the country.

“They are all committed to be part of this development journey that we have embarked upon. We will return to the Philippines with over US$1.3 billion in investment pledges that have the potential to create around 6,700 new jobs for Filipinos within the country,” Marcos said.

“When realized, these investments will support our country’s economic recovery efforts and further strengthen the foundations of our economic environment. We expect even more investment that will materialize once these companies firm up their plans.”

The President said the government could work with these investors to address the country’s key economic challenges, particularly food, energy, health security, digital connectivity, and the crosscutting issues of climate change and pandemic preparedness.

PH to ‘follow through’

Marcos also described his high-level discussions with US officials as “productive,” noting that the Philippines would follow through on these agreements.

“I look forward to having our respective teams follow through on the many areas of cooperation that we have identified, which will help advance our key priorities with respect to agriculture and food security, promoting energy security as we transition to clean energy, and boost trade and build resilience of our supply chains, enhancing connectivity and digitalization, also climate change mitigation and adaptation,” he said.

He welcomed the initiatives of the US government and its business leaders to “expand collaboration with the Philippine government and our universities to support the continued growth of local talent.”

Marcos  said the Philippines must “transform” so as not to be left out by the global market and be part of the new world.

In his remarks during the fireside chat at the Blair House in Washington, President Marcos told US businesses that he would rather use the word “transformation” than “recovery” to keep the economy in the Philippines moving and growing after the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I do not view it as they said how do we get out of this hole? The hole that the pandemic put us in? I said: ‘Well I see it in a different way.’ I think because – that’s why I do not use “recovery”, the word recovery, I use the word transformation. Because we are not trying to recover to where we used to be. We are trying to transform ourselves to be part of the modern world,” the chief executive said.

“Now, that transformation I think will occur I think it is a grand opportunity that we have been given. Now we do not start from a blank sheet of paper but it’s close… And many, many new sectors that did not exist before. There are businesses that did not exist before that will be very dominant in the very near future,” the President added.

During his policy speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC, Marcos said the strengthened partnerships between Manila and Washington on digital infrastructure, food security, health, and clean energy would have a high growth potential and provide the most benefits to both nations.

He particularly highlighted that the advancement of the Philippines-US common climate agenda, energy, and green metals cooperation would be an important piece of engagement.

Marcos said the country is interested in becoming a strategic partner of the US in terms of metal processing for American battery application and development.

“The increased deployment of clean technologies comes with an increase in demand for inputs of crucial energy resource minerals, including cobalt, nickel, which just happens to be very abundant in the Philippines,” he said.

Marcos said the Philippines is willing to work with the US government under its Inflation Reduction Act and help the sources of raw and processed materials for battery production and complement its “National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries.”

Nuclear energy

Marcos is also looking at progressing discussions with US companies that offer nuclear technologies for government and commercial use, while both countries continue cooperation on other capacity-building initiatives under other strategic civilian nuclear cooperation memorandum of understanding.

He told US President Joe Biden that he sees the process as a “critical undertaking technical cooperation” and possible US investments in the adoption of geographic information systems, remote sensing, and artificial intelligence in the baselining and change detection of terrestrial, coastal, and marine ecosystems.

“This will aid us as we establish our own geospatial database and equip us to move towards strengthening science-based policy-making in our country,” he added.

The CSIS is a bipartisan, nonprofit policy research organization dedicated to advancing practical ideas to address the world’s greatest challenges.

Joining the President were former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, House of Representatives Speaker Martin Romualdez, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo,  Department of National Defense Officer in Charge Carlito Galvez Jr., Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual, Communications Secretary Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil, and Special Assistant to the President Secretary Antonio Lagdameo Jr. (Claire Morales True/cmtpr1962@yahoo.com.ph)