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Although electric mobility is at an early stage in Latin America, several cities have made significant advances. “Charging Ahead: The Growth of Electric Car and Bus Markets in Latin American Cities,” a new report by the Inter-American Dialogue, addresses a number of critical questions about electric transportation in Latin America, drawing on case studies of six urban electric car and bus markets that have seen among the fastest growth in the region.
- Why focus on cities? Cities are the focal point for EV adoption in Latin America, and many are setting ambitious goals to promote clean transport. Drivers in cities travel shorter distances, making recharging easier. Public transportation is more widely used, creating opportunities for electrification of larger vehicles that run throughout the day. And municipal governments have specific policy instruments at their disposal, such as exemptions from road access and parking restrictions and public procurement strategies to introduce electric taxi and bus fleets.
- Why promote electric mobility? The case studies show that city-wide and national efforts to improve air quality and tackle climate change are the primary driving forces behind the growing interest in electric mobility in Latin America. Governments are also looking to strengthen energy security by reducing fossil fuel imports, enhance the performance of vehicle fleets, and improve public transport.
- What policies have boosted electric car sales? In Bogotá, financial incentives and a growing number of available EV models are spurring EV sales. In Santiago, strong climate change and electric mobility goals are providing long-term direction for markets, while a green vehicle tax is helping to level the playing field for EVs. In Mexico City, a wide range of models are available to consumers, but sales of EVs are being overshadowed by those of conventional hybrids, which receive similar incentives. In all three cities, programs introducing electric taxi, corporate and government fleets have increased the number of EVs on the road.
- What policies have promoted electric buses? City authorities in Santiago, Campinas and São Paulo have been aggressively pushing electric buses as part of new tenders to modernize and improve their fleets. Pilot programs testing electric buses have demonstrated their sound operations and low costs. Private sector actors, such as the global utility Enel and Chinese bus manufacturer BYD, have supported pilot programs and the role-out of electric bus fleets.
To further advance the electrification of transport in Latin America the report recommends four key policies:
- Strengthen financial incentives and standards favoring clean technologies.
- Expand programs for electrifying high-use vehicles and fleets.
- Develop national and municipal electric mobility strategies and long-term goals.
- Create public-private alliances.
The report is authored by Guy Edwards, research fellow and co-director of the Climate and Development Lab at Brown University; Lisa Viscidi, director of the Energy, Climate Change & Extractive Industries Program at the Inter-American Dialogue; and Carlos Mojica, urban transport senior specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank.
This report was made possible by support from BMW Group.