The Department of Transportation's (DOTr) long awaited PUV Modernization Program is finally underway, and a number of local manufacturers are already scrambling to be a part of it. We've seen plenty of prototypes leading up to the program's implementation, but perhaps few as impressive as Hino Motors Philippines' pitch, the XZU342L air-conditioned jeepney.
Design-wise, this Hino is akin to a mini bus than the classic jeepney, which has serviced the country's streets for as long as we can remember. That's not a bad thing, as its considerably larger dimensions--it measures 6,000mm long, 1,720mm wide, 2,115mm tall and runs on a 3,405mm wheelbase--provides excellent headroom and can comfortably seat up to 23 occupants.
The round lights are a little quirky, and large windows provide passengers with great visibility of their surroundings. There's also a fairly wide aisle, and a side door equipped with steps for easy entry and exit. Frankly, all you need to do is decorate the XZU342L with a creative, Pinoy-themed paint job and you're good to go.
Powering this prototype is a 4.0-liter diesel engine capable of 134hp and 390Nm. Max speed is pegged at 134kph, and yes, this engine complies with Euro 4 emissions standards.
The cost for all this? There's no set price yet, but Hino Motors Philippines chairman Viccente Mills Jr. said it will range from about P1.4 million to P2 million.
That's a steep price to pay, and no doubt some operators will have something to say about who should foot the bill (if it does end up plying our streets). But it's a small price to pay for clean, convenient and safe transportation. Hopefully, transport groups and the government can finally work something out so commuting via vehicles like this one becomes a reality. Agree?