© Reuters. .
By Alberto Alerigi Jr.
SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Ambev (SA 🙂 confirmed the first order for 100 electric delivery trucks for Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus (VWCO), part of a project worth hundreds of millions of reais for the acquisition of 1,600 electric vehicles until 2023 by the beverage manufacturer.
Ambev and the German truck unit Traton announced the intention of the acquisition in 2018 and since then the technology has been tested in the country. The order, announced this Friday by the companies, is one of the largest of its kind in the world, part of an Ambev plan to reduce its carbon footprint, something that also includes 48 solar power plants that the beverage manufacturer is implementing in distribution centers.
The volume of electric trucks to be purchased currently represents 35% of the fleet that operates for Ambev and the company’s plan is that they eventually replace the company’s diesel models. The vehicles will be purchased by carriers that already provide services to Ambev, which aims to make the electric model a prerequisite for logistics companies to serve the company.
The first 100 electric trucks of the order begin to be assembled in May 2021, after the production line at the VWCO factory in Resende (RJ) was completed between March and April. Deliveries should occur from the end of the first half, said the president of Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus, Roberto Cortes.
For the vehicle, VWCO allied with the Brazilian manufacturer of electric motors Weg (SA 🙂 and with the Chinese CATL, one of the largest producers of lithium-ion batteries in the world. The Brazilian battery manufacturer Moura is also part of the development.
According to Cortes, the electric version of the truck is two and a half times more expensive than the company’s diesel model, which has a list price of 220 thousand reais. That’s because the company is importing the battery from China. Only the cost of the battery is equivalent to the price of a conventional truck, said the executive.
“We have an objective for this battery to be produced in Brazil,” said Cortes, without being able to specify when this could happen in the face of production scale issues.
Despite the higher price, Cortes said that the electric model of the urban delivery truck has a maintenance cost 60% lower than the diesel version before initial calculations of the order of 50% savings. Meanwhile, the operating cost, which is mainly fuel, is 68% lower than the combustion model.
According to Cortes, the battery of the electric truck has autonomy for 200 kilometers with the vehicle loaded. As the regenerative brakes return up to 43% of the energy, the vehicles can circulate making deliveries during the day and being recharged during the night at the distribution centers.
For Ambev’s vice president of sustainability and supplies, Rodrigo Figueiredo, as the ownership costs of electric trucks are lower, “over the life of the truck ends up offsetting” the higher acquisition price compared to diesel models.
Figueiredo did not reveal the value of Ambev’s investment in the project, but stated that in the last five years alone the company has invested around R $ 1 billion in initiatives aimed at socio-environmental sustainability. According to the executive, electric trucks will initially be used in the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
The order confirmation goes against the defenses of relaxation of commitments to reduce greenhouse gases agreed years ago by governments and companies around the world. In August, for example, the German government admitted that it would not have met its 2020 climate target if the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic had not caused a sharp drop in greenhouse gas emissions.
Cortes said that VWCO has been talking to “several other stakeholders” in the electric truck, including from countries where the company operates in Latin America, but said that due to the confidentiality of the negotiations, it still could not name names. “It is not just beverage and food companies, but urban delivery, logistics companies,” said the executive.
On the side of Ambev, which operates in all the Americas, Figueiredo stated that the company has a policy of sharing good practices with other regions, but that “the projection we are making at this moment is to continue the development of technology here in Brazil “.
The executive cited Chile, for example, where the company is developing a project for trucks that use liquefied gas as fuel, which is less polluting than diesel.