21 Jun 22

Are EVs actually clean in Latin America?

There has been much talk about electric vehicles (EV) being more environmentally friendly than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, but this comes more into play if electric energy is being developed through clean and renewable means. 

Although the transition towards EVs in Latin America is a few steps behind many other regions of the world, we cannot overlook the fact that much of Latam’s electric energy production is quite clean.

Leading clean energy production in the region is Brazil, according to international renewable agency IRENA, a country which is also ranked No. 1 in Latin America in terms of fleet size, economic output, and geographical footprint. It is followed by Mexico.

In addition to Brazil being the country that generates the second most renewable energy in the world only behind hydropower leader Norway, according to Euro News, it is in the top 20 when it comes to the percentage of its electric energy coming from renewable sources at just over 80%. 

Much of Brazil’s green footprint is due to its biofuel production. It is the second-largest producer of ethanol fuel worldwide and it is an industry leader, with sugarcane-based ethanol being touted as the most successful alternative fuel to date.

As such, it was the first in the world to mass market an electric-powered passenger car which also ran on ethanol, the 2019 Toyota Corolla hybrid flex which is now being followed by other Toyota models.

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross hybrid runs on gasoline, ethanol, and electricity (courtesy of Toyota)

Meanwhile, others to highlight in the region are Paraguay, Costa Rica, and Uruguay of which nearly 100% of electricity is made by renewable means. Venezuela, Panama, and Colombia are others to keep in mind.  

When considering the type of renewable energy, those to highlight are hydropower (Brazil), Wind Power (Uruguay), Biomass (Brazil, Uruguay, Guatemala), Solar (Honduras), Geothermal (El Salvador, Nicaragua), according to data from IRENA.

With that said, if you are planning to make the transition to EVs in your fleet, first consider the amount of renewable energy being produced in the country’s you operate in and then make the appropriate changes.

For more on what is happening in the Latin American fleet and mobility scene, make sure to attend the next Fleet LatAm Business Networking group meeting taking place online, 5 July at 9am (Mexico City time). The topic of the day will be TCO and Energy!

Photo: Itaipu, a binational hydroelectric plant located on the Paraná River bordering Brazil and Paraguay. It is the second largest in the world – considered installed capacity - behind the Three Gorges Dam in China.

Authored by: Daniel Bland