In the middle of the year, Tesla surpassed the market value of traditional automotive companies such as GM, Toyota and Volkswagen. In fact, the market value of Elon Musk’s electric vehicle maker (VE) already exceeds the sum of GM, Ford and Fiat-Chrysler, totaling US $ 185 billion (about R $ 960 billion).
Tesla shares are up more than 400% this year on the New York Stock Exchange, packed by the increase in car production, which exceeded analysts’ projections in the first quarter.
In addition, a survey by the International Energy Agency points out that the total number of electric vehicles in circulation in the world could jump from 9.4 million units to 135 million in ten years – a scenario also expected for Brazil, despite the timid “slice” current 0.03% of the national light commercial vehicle fleet.
The scenario inspires the world of mobility to ask itself: are electric cars finally accelerating their presence in the market? Everything indicates that yes. But will this also happen in our country?
Currently, we officially have 12 electric models for sale in Brazil, including the Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron Sportback. In all, the ten automobiles in the category sold 239 units in the first half, according to Abeifa, an association that brings together importers and manufacturers. This highlights part of the problem: the high cost of vehicles is still an obstacle to increasing sales.
In a survey carried out at the end of August, Estadão found that the cheapest electric model in the country, the Chinese subcompact JAC IEV20, starts at R $ 139,900. Next comes the compact Renault Zoe starting at R $ 147,990 (for comparison, the Corolla Altis hybrid costs R $ 137,890, considered more spacious and comfortable).
Electromobility in Brazil
Since the first International Smart Cities Forum, held in Brazil by iCities, in 2012, we brought the theme of electric cars presented by two pioneers in electromobility in the country – engineers who worked at the Itaipu Technological Park (PTI), in a research center in electromobility. In the beginning, the development was focused on the electrification of adapted combustion cars, evolving into partnerships with international companies to make the manufacture of new 100% electric models feasible in Brazilian lands.
At iCities, we have always had this connection with automakers linked to electromobility, in addition to the commitment to sustainability. This was maintained in 2013, at the second iCities International Forum, an event that hosted for the first time a presentation of Renault’s complete line of electric vehicles, with a test drive carried out in the 2015 edition.
The history of EVs in the country is largely led by automakers installed in Paraná, as well as being a reference at the global level – the director of this area at Renault, Silvia Barcik, is an enthusiast of smart cities and defends electromobility through benefits for nature with zero CO2 emissions, as well as for safety and savings that electric vehicles can generate for the whole society.
New initiatives by industry giants are also beginning to emerge in Brazil. The German BMW and the Chinese BYD invest heavily in models with modern lines and increasing autonomy, as well as Volkswagen, which intends to produce the electric Golf at the São José dos Pinhais (PR) plant.
Also in Paraná, the largest electrovia in Brazil was recently opened, covering the 720 km between Paranaguá and Foz do Iguaçu, with 12 fast charging stations, capable of “filling” an 80% electric car battery in a period of 15 and 30 minutes. The state government has also stimulated the sector with exemption from IPVA for electric cars since 2019.
Another strong attraction of electric cars involves sustainability and combating pollution in cities. Cars with combustion engines are responsible for 24% of the emission of greenhouse gases generated by human activity.
There is also the issue of more efficient, cheaper and less polluting batteries, which have already started to be produced in Brazil – Vale, in fact, is in the process of closing a partnership with Tesla, to supply nickel at a low price and with minimal environmental impact.
According to a recent statement by the president of Nissan in Brazil, Marcos Silva, the pandemic will make people think about issues such as sustainability, where the electric car is thought.
Electric vs. combustion
Every time the speed is reduced by stepping on the brake, the batteries of a tram are recharged, while in the ordinary car, this energy is wasted.
The financial impact of recharging the electric car can be up to 80% less than with regular gasoline.
In electrophores, the recharge time of an electric car is, on average, 40 minutes. At a gas station, you fill the tank in 5 or 10 min, considering the time to pay for the fuel.
At home, with a 220V 20A outlet, it takes 6 hours to fully recharge an electric car. On the other hand, it is not possible to fill the common car without leaving the garage.
Check out a comparison video that iCities made at the end of 2019 between the electric BMW i3 and a combustion vehicle. The route was taken in the Rebouças neighborhood, in Curitiba.
All of these factors indicate that, in the medium and long term, electric costs will be cheaper compared to cars with a combustion engine, especially due to the improvement in the supply of nickel and other raw materials for batteries.
This will certainly make electric models accessible to more consumers in Brazil and worldwide. And since the vast majority of the electricity generated here comes from clean or renewable sources, our urban mobility has everything to become much more sustainable. So yes, I believe that the electric car has everything to work in Brazil.
Beto Marcelino, a biweekly columnist for TecMundo, is an agronomist, founding partner and director of government relations at iCities, the company that organizes the Smart City Expo Curitiba, the largest event in Brazil on smart cities with the seal of FIRA Barcelona.