Illiteracy or lack of infrastructure? (Part 1) – Energy Magazine







Experiences show that there are still issues to be resolved to advance in electromobility. In Europe, whoever buys an ecological car, later returns to a hybrid given the lack of recharging centers, along with this, with the activation of the market for used or second-hand electric vehicles, users with limited resources will be able to access this technology , given how prohibitive current prices are for new electric cars.

By Marina Parisi, Energy Magazine

Santiago de Chile.- The foregoing implies that our country must replace fossil fuel (coal and oil) with renewable energies such as solar, wind, hydroelectricity and green hydrogen, in addition to embracing electromobility.

However, electromobility in Chile today barely reaches 0.1% of the entire national fleet, according to the ranking prepared by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and published in December 2021. Why is Chile progressing so slowly in the adoption of green cars? ?

“Because the high price is still the main barrier to entry,” says Mauricio Osses, President of the Energy Commission of the College of Engineers of Chile and academician of the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the Federico Santa María Technical University (UTFSM).

“The higher price of new electric cars is due to the high value of their batteries. However, this large difference is rapidly diminishing and a price leveling is expected in the next four or five years”.

The problem is that we have heard the above before and prices do not yield. If we consider the current context, where everything is rising in price in an incomprehensible and irremediable way due to inflation, the future price leveling scenario predicted by Osses seems very unlikely.

Users with fewer resources marginalized

Who agrees that the excessive price of the electric vehicle explains the slow path towards electromobility, is Alex Godoy, Director of the Center for Research in Sustainability and Strategic Resource Management (CISGER) of the Universidad del Desarrollo (UDD) and member of the IPCC Chile (Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Climate Change).

“Undoubtedly, for a country with indices of income inequity as high as Chile, sensitivity to the price of goods and services is fundamental in the family purchase decision. For this reason, it is important that the price of ecological cars is accessible to the population with fewer resources. The evidence shows that it prefers electric cars, as long as it does not distort its budget”.

But, “with the activation of the market for used or second-hand electric vehicles, users with limited resources will be able to access this technology”, repairs Osses.

Without a doubt, this new market niche will facilitate the adoption of electromobility in Chile. However, individuals will have to wait a while longer to be able to buy a used green car at a lower price, if current levels of inflation persist.

Charging stations, where are they?

Another great barrier to the entry of electromobility is that the recharging infrastructure for electric cars has not been available at the same rate as their sale, Godoy points out.

“Today users are hesitant to buy an electric vehicle, due to the lack of charging stations. In fact, several scientific articles assure that one in five people in Europe who buys an ecological car, later returns to a hybrid given the lack of recharging centers”.

But the lack of charging stations is only the tip of the iceberg. Its physical location, operation and use by users remains a puzzle that is too difficult to solve.

As Osses explains, “chargers for private users are difficult to implement in existing buildings, which greatly limits their proliferation. Although chargers are already being considered in future buildings”.

If this is the panorama of the network of chargers for private operators, the map of chargers for public operators is even more complex, “since they require greater electrical power than private ones,” warns Osses.

“For this reason, public-private development policies are needed, in order to ensure supply throughout the country’s road network. The availability of chargers shared by several users is also important, both in companies and in public institutions, and especially during business hours”.

“All of the above requires a strategy that favors interoperability, facilitating the connection and payment process in different systems (vehicle/charger). There are several very important initiatives under development, but it is still necessary to continue advancing on several action fronts”.

Garbage collectors and electric delivery’s

In Godoy’s opinion, another aspect that has trapped the development of electromobility in Chile is that “emphasis was placed on vehicles for individuals and not on fleets.”

“If, in a complementary way, resources had been allocated to fleets (low-end trucks, company transport, delivery’s), this would have triggered, yes or yes, the offer for recharging infrastructure. In Asian countries there are electric fleets for garbage collection and the distribution of different services. In Chile this has not yet started and the demand or purchase agreements could be important”.

Osses’ vision is very similar on this point, emphasizing that light cars for commercial use such as taxis, vans, vans and small trucks are perfect candidates for electromobility.

“Many companies have begun to consider renewal plans for their fleet, with varying degrees of success and where the initial price is the stumbling block. But this can be amortized in reasonable times, thanks to the high mileage of these cars”.


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