12 oct 22

Bringing EVs to Central America through strategic partnerships

The transportation industry is a major contributor to pollution in Central America, accounting for at least half the harmful CO2 emissions in the region, but what can we do about it?

“To wean Central America’s dependency from oil and the internal combustion engine (ICE), electric vehicles (EV) drastically need to be introduced in the region,” Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) President Dante Mossi told Global Fleet in Honduras just before a business trip to Washington DC.

To accomplish the bank’s zero emission goal by 2030 which entails having only hybrids or full-electric vehicles, CABEI (or BCIE in Spanish) is committed to providing US$1 billion in annual funding in the coming years to help its member countries achieve their development goals.

Search for US Companies 

Although the bank does business with companies from various countries, it is having a lot of good dialog with the United States right now. It is in talks with Secretary of state Antony Blinken and US presidential envoy for climate John Kerry, on top of signing an MOU in the country,” said Mr. Mossi, highlighting that the bank is rated AA by Standard & Poor’s, the best in the region.

The bank wants to promote the transition to more sustainable and climate friendly mobility solutions in Central America in partnership with US companies. As such, CABEI is hosting the 2022 Business Forum “Introducing Electric Mobility in Central America”. It will take place in Washington DC on November 21, 2022.

According to the bank executive, Central America is very agricultural, and many clients are asking for producers to be more sustainable or to say “greener”. Besides taxi unions and public buses, some of the EVs in high demand are delivery trucks for refrigerated fleets that carry meat and dairy products as well as standard motorcycles for small-scale farmers.

Pickups such as this 2022 Toyota Tacoma (Hilux) have been very popular in Central America in recent years (copyright: Toyota)

Regarding motorcycles for farmers, Mr. Mossi stated that the bank is offering eight-year financing with 1.9% fixed APR and a two-year grace period. The bank also guarantees up to 75% of the loan amount for the farmers.

“To set an example, I have just bought a hybrid vehicle, and we are working toward having all our bank employees with either a hybrid or full-electric, Mr. Mossi said.

Besides offering CABEI's financial products and services to the private sector in member countries, the forum will share the latest insights, trends, and industry outlook of electric mobility and give a chance for manufacturers and suppliers to showcase their products and technologies.

The bank’s objectives are:

•    inform and explore relevant trends and opportunities for sustainable electric mobility, charging technologies, intelligent and autonomous transport systems, among others.
•    bring together US and regional stakeholders from the electric mobility sector to drive business development opportunities.
•    encourage foreign exchange and investment attraction by strengthening trade relations between the United States and countries of Central America and the Caribbean.

Today, we have requests for electrified buses, delivery trucks, taxis, cars, and motorcycles, but the industry has not supplied these models to us yet. We have the funds to finance the transition and we are planning to join forces with US automakers and suppliers to make this happen, says Mr. Mossi.

Approximately 15 Central American vehicle distributors from countries such as Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic are expected to be traveling to Washington DC, seeking to attract EV manufacturers for personal vehicles, public transport, and corporate fleet, as well as charging infrastructure companies.

Among the US firms the bank is seeking to do business with or already in talks with include: Tesla, Rivian, Ford, Lordstown Motors, Lucid Motors, Fisker, Canoo Via Motors, XOS, Bollinger, Proterra, Gillig, Blink, ChargePoint, ClipperCreek, Leviton, SemaConnect, Arcimoto, and many more. 

For more on fleet strategies across Latin America, download your free copy of Global Fleet's latest e-book on the matter, "Successful Fleet Strategies for Latam".

Authored by: Daniel Bland