Adalberto Maluf, BYD: EV market emerging in LatAm
Electric vehicles (EV) in most countries throughout Latin America have been slow to take off but things look to be turning around, according to Adalberto Maluf who is director of marketing, sustainability and new business in Latin America for Chinese automaker BYD.
For BYD, which is already present in at least nine countries throughout the region, one of the main challenges is making their cars light enough to qualify for the best tax breaks available in Latin America’s largest car market, Brazil,” Maluf told Global Fleet.
Despite this, the company has been selling the most EVs in the country for almost two years, thanks to light commercial vehicle (LCV) and bus sales. Here is more on Maluf's view of the local market.
Global Fleet: What is your coverage area?
Maluf: Our main market is Brazil but we also support marketing and after sales activities in other Latin American countries such as Chile, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Uruguay, Panama, and Costa Rica.
BYD is also present in Mexico but that unit works more with the United States as we have a factory in California.
Global Fleet: Which vehicles are you marketing in the region right now?
Maluf: First of all, we [Brazil unit] do not operate dealerships in the country so we only sell B2B via corporate direct sales. We also set up vehicle renting or leasing projects for companies.
As for the type of vehicles, we have the e5 [sedan] and the e6 [crossover hatch]. Although the passenger car market is fairly new for us in Latin America, we are quite mature when it comes to LCVs and buses.
One of the first types of electric LCVs introduced in Brazil is our t3, of which we already have clients such as DHL, Nestle, Unilever, and many more. We also have larger trucks such as the t8.
2018 BYD e6 (Source: BYD)
Global Fleet: What about buses. BYD is a major producer of electric buses, right?
Maluf: Sure, BYD is actually the largest manufacturer of electric buses in the world and we have several models in our Latam portfolio. Among them are the micro-bus which we produce together with bus manufacturer Volare and the standard 12-13m bus which involves collaborations with Caio and Marco Polo.
We are also planning to launch two models here by 2019, being a 15m bus and a longer articulating bus.
Global Fleet: Back to cars, one of the common discussions among automakers this year is trying to get discounts on the Federal Industrialization Tax (IPI). What do you think of the IPI reductions on EVs stipulated under Brazil's ROTA 2030 policy?
Maluf: IPI on EV’s have fallen to 25% and will fall even more, depending on the model, but we really have to wait until November for it to start taking effect.
There is a weight stipulation, however, which makes it very difficult for automakers to qualify for the lowest tax rate of 7%. Actually, only cars that are less than 1.4 tons qualify.
Despite IPI on the Toyota Prius seen falling to 12% from 13%, IPI on the Volvo XC-90 and XC-60 will increase to 15% from 11% and this is because they are heavy.
Global Fleet: So what about BYD cars?
Maluf: Well, as our cars are full-electric as opposed to hybrids, we qualify for efficiency discounts. However, our vehicles weigh in at around 1.8t so this disqualifies us from the best discounts.
For us, IPI has initially fallen to 25% and it is expected to drop to 8-9% in some models and 14-15% in others.
Global Fleet: How do you see EV coming along in Latin America’s largest market, Brazil?
Maluf: Brazil has taken a while to wake up to EV but multinational companies are starting to enter the market and I see growth in the region. However, most of the demand is for hybrids right now and we are really the only one selling EV’s on a large scale.
BYD actually led EV sales in Brazil last year and 2018 is looking the same. Fortunately, we are number one in the world in terms of total EV and plug-in sales and we want to keep it that way.