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Electric Buses Grow Strong in Latin America

By Alejandro Enríquez | Tue, 07/28/2020 - 15:12

As cities struggle to find sustainable mobility solutions, electric buses are becoming a feasible option due to their emission-free performance and low maintenance costs. Back in 2019, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) first documented the advancements and opportunities of electric buses in Latin America.

According to UNEP, 100 million people in Latin America live in areas with low air quality. This situation can be aggravate considering the vehicle park will most likely triple by 2050. Considering that an electric bus can save up to 60 tons of CO2 per year, according to COP 25, this has become a feasible option for cities to improve mobility. 

Chinese bus manufacturers have particularly taken advantage of cities' willingness and national government's efforts toward a cleaner and sustainable mobility. Diálogo Chino, a specialized media outlet on the Latin American-Chinese relationship, reported in June that "cities across Latin America are cleaning their transport networks with Chinese electric buses." Chinese manufacturers are the largest suppliers to the region. 

According to the E-Bus Radar report, prepared by the Sustainable Mobility Laboratory at the University of Rio de Janeiro, Latin America has 1,229 electric buses in operation in 10 countries, including 563 ordinary buses, 624 trolleybuses and 41 midi e-buses. Chile is the country with most Chinese electric buses outside China. Brazil is second in the region with 247 electric buses followed closely by Mexico with 238. 

Although Colombia has only 92 buses, Diálogo Chino affirms that 379 electric buses were bought to feed Bogota's Transmilenio BRT system through a public tender. The city is also working toward the replacement of 2,200 other buses, which could give Colombia the leadership in this segment. The Latin American country already produces 70 percent of its electricity from hydroelectric plants.

As for Mexico, earlier this year, the Mexico City government bought from Yutong 63 trolleybuses which accounted for an investment of around US$35 million. According to Director General of Mexico City's Electric Transport Service Guillermo Calderón, "Mexico City's last trolleybus acquisition was made 22 years ago," he said to China Daily. Ren Wenhui, Commercial Manager of Yutong in Mexico confirmed that the country is the first one in Latin America to buy trolleybuses from the company. Yutong has also supplied gas and electric buses to Aguascalientes and has also presence in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru. 

In Mexico's capital city, 45 percent of CO2 emissions are generated by transportation equipment. Will electric buses be enough to improve the city's air quality?

Photo by:   Wikimedia Commons
Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst