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Potential development of electric vehicles production and market in Brazil: a discussion focused on automotive and electric sector strategies
Submitted by Edgar Barassa, Unicamp on 29 févr. 2016 - 16:47
Type de publication:Conference Paper
Source:Gerpisa colloquium, Puebla (2016)
Mots-clés:Automotive industry, Brazil, discontinuous change, Electric Vehicle, technological path
The automobile industry across the world is undergoing structural changes (Jullien & Pardi, 2013). Advances in emission regulations and the effects of oil price fluctuations are forcing carmakers towards new product programmes that use new technologies in order to increase the energy efficiency of vehicles, reduce emissions and decrease environment impacts (Freyssenet, 2011). Among the technological paths for the automotive industry in this context, the electric vehicles (EVs) - Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV), Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), are highlighted as alternative solutions to internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs). Most of trusted automotive industry forecasts argues that electric mobility will become established (IEA, 2015; Navigant Research, 2015). The number of electric vehicles produced and marketed have increased consistently over the past few years. However, this is a transition path that is taking place slowly, gradually and differently among countries with consolidated automotive markets and industries. Automotive companies, especially in emerging markets, are faced with the decision of either attempting a leap into electric mobility, based on innovative business models and new technologies or continuous improvement of traditional business models and existing technologies (traditional internal combustion technology) (Proff, 2011). Bringing this discussion to the scope of the Brazilian automobile industry, some questions arise: Does Brazil plan to enter into the segment of electric mobility? What is the role being designed by the automotive industry and the electric sector? Does the country intends to invest in diversification, working both with flex fuel vehicles as well as electric? The paper explore these questions by discussing the strategies and actions performed by the automotive industry and electric sector in Brazil to promote the formation of an EV production cluster and local market. In order to achieve the proposed objective we use a combination of two strategies: first, mapping and collecting secondary data on the topic of electric vehicle production and supply chains through literature search (articles, theses, books and technical reports). The second strategy involves the application of semi-structured interviews conducted at large automotive manufacturers and global suppliers, at industry associations, consultancies as well as with academics, throughout the period comprehended between September 2015-February 2016 in São Paulo state/ Brazil. The results of this study show that Brazil does not have a clear and defined strategy for the development of electric mobility. There are ongoing specific actions taken by some actors. The main projects about EV´s R&D (Research & Development) and production are being conducted by electric sector companies (electric energy generator and electric energy distributor), namely: (1) developing studies related to the impact of EVs on the electric grid; (2) developing prototyping projects of EV´s; (3) identifying the needs of potential users and (4) negotiating incentives and subsidies with the federal government and automotive industry. As examples we can emphasize the partnership between ITAIPU - the largest hydroelectric power generator in Brazil - with FIAT, for the development and production of the electric version of the Palio model. CPFL (São Paulo Electric Company) is conducting R&D projects with public research institutions like Center of Research and Development (CPqD) and University of Campinas (UNICAMP). CPFL is also installing electric charger stations in Campinas and surrounding areas. From another perspective we identified some actions from automakers and auto parts installed in Brazil in favor of the electric vehicle. However, these initiatives perform a modest participation if compared to the electric sector. Foreign automobile manufacturers are starting the commercialization (mainly for private companies) of imported electric automobiles in the domestic market. As examples we can mention the commercialization of the BMW i3, Nissan LEAF and Renault ZOE in 2015. However, due to the high price of these vehicles, few units were sold so far - around 4,000 units - (ABVE, 2016). Until now there is no production of electric automobiles in Brazil, but this situation may change with Nissan. This Japanese automaker is considering the installation of a new plant for the production of LEAF in Rio de Janeiro in 2017. The survey also identified small technology-based companies (start-ups) that manufacture bicycles, tricycles and other small cars. We highlight the role of the bus segment, which presents the national company Electra as assembler and the newly arrival of Chinese BYD, with a production plant for electric bus and batteries in the city of Campinas. About components, two companies have been identified: WEG (electric motors) and Moura (batteries) demonstrating the fragility of the formation of a supply chain in the country, since there are few companies manufacturing components. We conclude that Brazil does not have a comprehensive and well-defined strategy directed to the development of electric vehicles. Mapped ongoing actions do not have the strength or the coordination that is needed to promote the formation of an electric mobility cluster and local market. We can argue that Brazil is positioned in favor of maintaining its auto industry based on ICE´s that uses renewable fuel, a field that the country has more than 40 years of experience and accumulated know-how.
ABVE (2016) ‘Brazilian Association of Electric Vehicle’. Available in:
Freyssenet, M. (2011) ‘Three possible scenarios for cleaner automobiles’. International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management, 11, No. 4, pp.300–311.
IEA - International Energy Agency (2015). ‘Hybrid and Electric Vehicles The Electric Drive Delivers: Implementing Agreement for Co-operation on Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Technologies and Programmes. Available in
Jullien, B. , Pardi, T. (2013). ‘Structuring new automotive industries, restructuring old automotive industries and the new geopolitics of the global automotive sector’. International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management. 13, 2, p.96-113.
Navigant Research (2015). ‘Global Forecasts for Light Duty Hybrid, Plug-In Hybrid, and Battery Electric Vehicle Sales and Vehicles in Use: 2015-2024’. Available:
Proff, H. (2011). ‘What will happen to Brazilian automotive subsidiaries after their parent companies make the transition to electric mobility?’. Int. J. Automotive Technology and Management. 11, 4, 356-375