Electromobility in Chile faces great challenges, which are common in other Latin American countries on the way towards Zero Emission transportation.
Chile’s electromobility keeps developing amidst several challenges (common to other Latin American countries) to achieve a Zero Emission transportation. The prices of electric vehicles (EVs), infrastructure shortage, and the opportunity of generating clean energy are the largest issues.
Santiago, Chile’s hyper-urbanized capital, faced a complex pollution situation until the COVID-19 pandemic brought a 29% decrease of particulate matter and a 71% decrease of nitrous oxide related to less fossil combustion vehicles on the road during April 2021. According to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), these figures are a call to action regarding electromobility.
“Chile’s Energy Ministry has stressed electromobility’s importance for the country’s economic development, serving as a double goal: To achieve decarbonization via Zero Emission transportation and to reduce costs related to fossil fuel vehicles.”
Even though it’s complicated for Chile to follow the European Union’s lead to ban all selling of internal combustion vehicles by 2035 and to open the EV market, the government is studying alternatives such as expanding their electric public transportation system.
Recently, Chilean government passed a bill to enforce all public transport concession holders in Santiago to tender only if they plan to add EVs to their fleets. It’s worth mentioning that Santiago has an electric metrobus fleet similar to Mexico City’s MB Line 3, with a 185-mile autonomy per full battery charge.
According to IDB, toward the end of 2021, Santiago’s metropolitan urban transport network (formerly known as TranSantiago) will provide service with 800 electric buses. This will be the largest electromobility fleet in the world, besides China, the leading country on this subject.
Considering that the cost of electric buses is currently 60% higher than diesel-fueled buses, the IDB suggests a financial strategy based on Chile’s electromobility case study: determine which public transport routes are the most used, and focus on replacing their fossil-fuel driven units for electric vehicles; streamlining processes in economic terms and achieving Zero Emission routes.
Finally, the IDB advocates considering 2020-2021 as a platform in all Latin America to explore diverse scenarios on the path to decarbonization on public transport. Chile is the best example on how to approach to carbon-neutral mobility by using electromobility on public transportation.