Electric mobility could contribute 17% of Chile’s decarbonisation goal by 2050
Although 100% electric models have increased by 275% in three years, experts agree that it is urgent to advance in greater incentives, benefits and an ecosystem that allows the massification of electromobility throughout the national territory.
It is estimated that today transport is responsible for 35% of energy consumption in our country. And of this segment, 86% corresponds to land transport. This means that the sector generates close to a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions in Chile. Figures that are undoubtedly worrying and call for action.
For this reason, eyes are set on more sustainable transport systems, such as electric transport, which becomes between four and five times more efficient than the one that currently prevails, based on combustion vehicles or fossil fuels.
“Among the most effective alternatives to achieve carbon neutrality is electric mobility, which by 2050 would contribute 17% of our goal as a country,” they say from the Ministry of Energy.
A vision shared by experts. Diego Mendoza, general secretary of the National Automotive Association of Chile (ANAC), maintains that the electrification of the vehicle fleet, added to policies to promote renewable energy generation, will allow our country to be more efficient and self-sustainable, energetically speaking, in terms of mobility. “This means that we will not depend on fossil fuels or petroleum derivatives, and we will be able to recharge electrified vehicles with energy generated from renewable sources,” he explains.
Since 2017, Chile has had an Electromobility Strategy, updated in 2021, which, among other things, sets as a goal that all incorporations to urban public transport and 100% of the sales of light and medium vehicles be zero emissions by 2035.
GROWTH AND INCENTIVE
And we are advancing at a firm and determined step towards these goals. According to ANAC data, if in 2020 the 100% electric vehicles circulating in the country reached 1,498 units, in July 2023 this figure reached 5,626 units, an increase of 275% in just three years.
From the trade association they explain that one of the segments that have grown the most are commercial vehicles (vans, last-mile freight transport, provision of services, among others) and public transport, which has had a sustained rise thanks to the renewal of the RED fleet with an emphasis on electric buses. From 2020 to date, the accumulated sales increase of electric buses has been 153%, and only so far this year more than a thousand new units have been incorporated, adding a total of 2 thousand buses of this type in the country.
“Today, 31% of the bus fleet in Santiago is electric, which places us as the city outside of China with the largest number of units of this type,” they highlight from the Ministry of Energy.
Regarding light and medium-sized 100% electric vehicles, from 2020 to July of this year, accumulated sales grew by 389.5%, from 682 to 3,339 units.
Although the figure is attractive, “1% of total sales has not yet been exceeded, a figure well below that of developed countries,” warns Luis Gutiérrez, a researcher at the Center for Energy Transition (CENTRA) of the Faculty of Engineering and Sciences. from the Adolfo Ibáñez University and from SERC-Chile.
For this reason, he adds, it is vital to create incentives and commitments on the part of the State and the industry to stimulate the purchase of this type of transport with comparative benefits with other versions. “The unit cost (of these vehicles) easily exceeds $30 million, sometimes doubling the value of their equivalent combustion model,” he notes.
PREPARE THE COURT
In the academic’s opinion, micro-electromobility or last-mile electromobility, such as scooters, is an attractive alternative to promote in an urban environment given its lower cost and usefulness for short distances, or even to be used in combination with public transport, particularly , the subway.
The example of Europe is interesting, where electric “nanocars” have entered with force, small two-seater models that are committed to safety and sustainability. At the beginning of May, Silence, ACCIONA’s electric vehicle manufacturer, presented its new S04, which measures just 233 cm long by 156 cm wide and works with a removable battery, which has wheels and a handle for transporting it.
Although models like this are not yet available in Chile, innovations of this type show that electromobility is a market that is growing day by day. And for it to develop properly, the field must be well prepared.
In this sense, the ANAC representative mentions important issues to be discussed, such as eliminating the customs tariff that today applies to all vehicles with new zero-emission technology that enter the country; facilitate the procedure so that zero or low emission vehicles can be accepted as work vehicles and qualify for tax benefits before the SII, and generate non-economic benefits for zero and low emission vehicles.
“For example, circulation on exclusive roads, preferential parking in shopping centers, municipalities or other mechanisms such as the payment of reduced tolls on urban and interurban highways, which can be a great boost for electromobility,” says Mendoza.
Meanwhile, Gutiérrez proposes that another way that can accelerate electromobility while promoting the circular economy is the conversion of combustion vehicles to electric ones. “We are waiting for the regulation that establishes the requirements for this transformation to be approved,” he says.
Urban mobility is the call to lead the transition towards the electrification of transport, but for this it is essential to have an ecosystem of non-polluting, silent vehicles that facilitate travel in cities and are available when people need them. .
In Europe, the transformation towards the electrification of transport is taking place at the hands of various innovations led by companies such as Acciona, which through its subsidiary Silence manufactures and markets motorcycles and light electric vehicles and batteries in Spain.
One of the peculiarities of the Silence proposal is that all its motorcycle models and the two-seater “nanocar” work with the same type of battery, which is also removable. This innovation represents a great advance in terms of the time it takes to recharge these vehicles, which thanks to this possibility of exchanging the battery is reduced from hours to less than a minute.
In addition, Battery Stations were developed, points located in service stations, parking lots and other places, which users locate through a mobile application and where they can leave their discharged battery and pick up a 100% charged one.
These battery stations help get around another barrier: the cost of electric vehicles. The reason? People can buy battery-free Silence models and take a monthly subscription to use the batteries that are picked up at exchange points. In this way, the price of these electric vehicles can be up to 40% lower.
To advance in the electrification of the vehicle fleet, a key aspect is the availability of a good public and private charging infrastructure.
“Public access points are essential for the mass adoption of electro-mobility in cities like Santiago, where a large part of the population lives in apartments without access to chargers in the buildings. On the other hand, the home recharging option could impact low and medium voltage networks in the future, which requires advance planning that incorporates this aspect as soon as possible, considering alternatives for intelligent network operation”, warns the CENTRA researcher. Currently, there are 908 charging points or connectors distributed in the 16 regions of the country. 66.4% of the available public chargers are in the Metropolitan Region, while many communes in different regions still have nowhere to recharge.
For this reason, one of the great commitments of the “Roadmap for the Advancement of Electromobility”, presented to President Boric at the beginning of August, is to develop a National Plan for Public Charging Infrastructure for 2025, which contemplates that on interurban routes, charging points are no more than 100 kilometers apart.
The document, prepared by the Ministries of Transport, Energy and various actors called at the national level, proposes concrete actions to massify electromobility by 2026.