Author: Juan Diego Celemín Mojica
“Passionate about all things Latin American, I have been closely following transitions in energy and mobility since they began to appear south of the equator.”
If you missed Part 1 of this series, check out: South American Plug-in Markets, At a Glance — Part 1: Argentina, Peru and Ecuador.
Chile has a fairly significant vehicle market for its size, larger than both Colombia and Argentina despite having slightly more than a third of the population of both.
Chile offers some benefits to EV buyers, including preferential depreciation rates for companies and cheaper transit permits. However, there is no information available on other rebates, duty exemptions or preferential tax rates, despite the country’s commitment to achieving 100% electric vehicle sales in the light vehicle market by 2035. If any Chilean readers may wish to provide additional information, it would be well received .
EV numbers in Chile
During the first 6 months of 2022, Chile sold a total of 827 plug-in vehicles, of which 247 are PHEVs and 553 are BEVs. While still a small amount (just under 0.4% of total sales, which stood at 222,453 vehicles in the first half of the year), the country has nevertheless seen rapid growth and is aiming to break the 0.5% mark for pure BEVs by the end. year. It is good to mention that, apart from the purchase of 650 electric buses, the plug-in market in Chile was almost non-existent before 2021.
Interestingly, unlike other countries in the region, Chile currently lacks a large presence of Chinese car manufacturers (apart from the already mentioned electric buses). Of the top 10 brands in the first semester of 2022, only one is Chinese:
There are three European companies on the podium, with China (Maxus), Japan (Nissan) and Korea (Hyundai) being the only non-European participants in the top 10.
Unfortunately, I was unable to find information on sales figures for specific models. Some of these can be deduced (like all Nissans are LEAFs, all Porsches are Taycans, or all Hyundais are Ioniqs) and it’s worth noting that Maxus is a utility brand that primarily offers utility vehicles, including pickups, light trucks, vans. and one SUV.
Charging infrastructure in Chile
Despite the relatively low sales figure, Chile is already preparing for the future and has deployed a significant number of charging stations – both fast and slow – up to 247 in April 2022. The geography of the country, on a long north-south axis, facilitates the creation of electrified corridors. Enel – the Italian electricity and gas company that operates in many Latin American countries, including Chile – has committed to building the continent’s most ambitious charging infrastructure project here: 1,200 stations connecting the country by 2024.
A few things are worth noting about Chile. The country has pioneered the purchase of electric buses, with the first 100 arriving in December 2018, another 183 in 2019, and up to 3,500 expected in the following years. At some point, this made it the country with the largest fleet of electric buses outside of China! However, this position has now been taken by Colombia. So far, another 1,022 buses have been purchased from the Chinese automaker Photon and will arrive in the country in the coming months.
Also worth mentioning is a Chilean startup called Electric motors reborn aims to produce electric buses locally. They have already built the first of them and have a planned capacity of 200 buses per year — although the batteries and motors will probably (at least) come from abroad. Time will tell if Chile – lying next to the so-called “Lithium Triangle” – will eventually be able to develop local production of battery cells and packs.
Brazil, a giant in every respect, represents more than half of the entire South American vehicle market, so it had to appear in this ranking. Due to its massive size, the Brazilian market represents the largest number of BEVs sold of any country in the region. Although proportionally it is still a small market. Brazil is also the largest car producer in South America and at one point it seemed that Tesla wanted to have a gigafactory there, but currently only one local manufacturer specializes in electric vehicles: Hitech Electric.
EV numbers in Brazil
So far in 2022, 917,942 cars have been sold on the Brazilian market, including 3,843 BEVs (0.4%) and 19,764 … hybrids, including HEVs and PHEVs. That’s one of the main problems with Brazil’s data: it essentially classified all electrified cars as “electric” until 2021. This year it has two categories: “electric” and “hybrid” … and good luck figuring out how many cars are PHEVs and how many are HEVs. For this reason, I have not been able to create a graph showing EV adoption per month as I have done with other countries, and I will leave out PHEVs and only talk about BEVs in this section.
In any case, BEV sales figures were negligible until 2019 (it could be argued that their market share still is), but since then they have been growing at a very high rate, with the first six months of 2022 already surpassing the total sales of 2021. .
Likewise, Brazilian data clearly favors model sales over brand sales, so here are the top 20 BEVs sold in Brazil:
Unfortunately, no equivalent information could be found on PHEVs (which probably far exceed BEV sales) so a more comprehensive top 10 was not possible.
Regardless, the top 20 BEVs present a very interesting picture, with only two Chinese automakers present (JAC and BYD), three European models (two from Volvo) on the podium, and European companies all around. Only one non-European model made it to the top 5, only two to the top 10.
It is important to mention that the JAC E-JS1 is the same JAC E10X sold in Colombia and Mexico. However, due to high customs duties and little to no exemptions for BEVs, this car costs much more in Brazil than in any of these countries, at BRL 159,900 or $31,370 USD at current exchange rates.
Honorable mention to the Renault Kwid E-Tech, the performance version of the Dacia Spring that will arrive in Brazil in the coming months. According to available information, over 700 cars are currently on their way to the country and all have already been sold.
In terms of charging infrastructure, there is no centralized information, but a quick search of charging stations above 50 kW in the electric maps offers a grim picture, with most of the country having only the occasional charger, apart from the very developed corridor from Florianopolis to Ciudad del Este and extending to Asunción, Paraguay.
Brazil need to up their game. Despite the region leading in absolute sales, numbers are still far below what they could be and infrastructure is lacking. The current BEV rates have been rising very fast, but with the country’s high tariffs, it’s hard to think that EVs can make a significant dent in the local market until a local automaker starts producing them.
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