Electric buses surging in Latin America, Chile adding to the fleet as it aims for all-electric by 2040
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A number of Latin American countries are ramping up their adoption of electric buses this year, with Chile leading the way. The country recently added 200 new electric buses to its fleet, with an expected 500 more to follow next year, as it aims to have a fully electric public transport system by 2040.
An update comes from UN Environment, which offers a few more details about the ongoing plans of a number of Latin American nations with regard to electric buses and mobility.
Chile currently has the largest fleet of electric buses in Latin America and the Caribbean — the 200 new e-buses launched in its capital city of Santiago, one of the most polluted cities in Latin America, earlier this year. Santiago has previously announced plans to make 80% of its buses electric by 2022, and the city is expected to add 500 more electric buses by 2020 in its next phase.
Santiago also recently announced that it’s testing a larger articulated bus in its fleet, the BYD K11, as seen in the photo above the headline.
Chile is making a concerted effort to reduce its emissions and air pollution moving forward with the adoption of electric buses. The country will host the UN Climate Change Conference COP25 in December. Conference president and Chile’s Minister of Environment Carolina Schmidt noted the importance of shifting the country’s fleet toward electric:
“To decisively confront climate change, electromobility is critical. We are taking a leap towards a cleaner, more efficient and sustainable transport system.”
UN Environment notes that air pollution causes at least 4,000 premature deaths in Chile each year, and 10 million Chileans — more than half of the country’s 17.5 million population — are exposed daily to unsafe air pollution. The organization did a study in 2017 which estimated that a transition toward an all-electric taxi and bus fleet in Santiago would avoid 1,379 premature deaths by 2030.
One electric bus can avoid up to 60 tonnes of carbon emissions every year. Electric buses currently make up more than three-quarters of worldwide oil displacement from electric vehicles.
China is the runaway leader when it comes to electric bus adoption — about 99% of the world’s electric buses are in China — but other countries are showing more interest. This includes France, as Paris made an order for 800 electric buses last month.
Santiago may have 700 electric buses in its fleet by next year, but other Latin American countries are trying to keep pace with Chile. Cali, Colombia will complete a fleet of 125 electric buses this year, UN Environment notes. Medellin, Colombia ordered 64 BYD electric buses earlier this year, and the world’s longest articulated bus was also introduced as bound for the country last month. And Guayaquil, the largest city in Ecuador, launched a fleet of 20 electric buses in March.
It goes beyond buses, as well:
Costa Rica pledges to have an all-electric fleet of buses and taxis by 2050, as part of a national decarbonization plan. Other countries are also putting in place incentives for customers, like Peru, where a tax on electric vehicles was lifted in 2018.
Chile is looking to increase its share of private electric cars by 40 percent, but the country is just taking small steps in that regard. There are only about 500 private electric vehicles on the road in the country thus far.
Many countries around the world are using electric buses and other electric vehicles as a way to cut down emissions and suffocating air pollution, and while some are making progress, others are taking bold steps to get there. India’s government — led by the just re-elected right-wing Prime Minister Narendra Modi — may even require all two- and three-wheelers to be electric vehicles in the near future.
In the US, we’ve seen progress here and there, but electric bus adoption has been relatively slow. The country has been given an opportunity toward further accelerating adoption with settlement funds from VW’s Dieselgate. But most states are in danger of using their funding allotment in ways that may not be nearly as helpful — or are downright irresponsible. The US needs to pick up the pace, before we’re left even further behind, still waiting by the roadside, choking on our own fumes.