Think Electric Trucks Are Out of Reach in Latin America? Think Again.

03.13.19 | Blog | By:

Medellin-based multinational banking giant Bancolombia announced March 12 that it’s now offering companies the opportunity to rent all-electric, zero-emissions delivery trucks in Colombia’s major cities – at the same annual cost as conventional trucks.

The goal is to put into circulation 1,000 electric trucks over the next three years, replacing diesel- and gasoline-powered trucks that today are causing much of the air pollution in Medellin, Bogota and other major cities, according to Bancolombia’s “Renting Colombia” subsidiary.

Major companies in Colombia including Nutresa, Bimbo, Bavaria, Colombina and Éxito are already testing these electric trucks, in an alliance with Medellin-based electric vehicle marketer Auteco, according to Bancolombia.

The scheme enables both smaller and larger companies to rent rather than buy the trucks, at a cost of operation “equal to that of [trucks] with traditional gasoline or diesel combustion, so in this way overcoming the limitation” of electric trucks, according to Bancolombia.

Besides eliminating toxic particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO) emissions, the electric trucks also slash net carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions — since most of Colombia’s electric power comes from zero-emissions hydroelectric plants.

“Launching the first [nationwide] fleet of electric trucks in Colombia responds to our commitment to do business well and sustainable,” explained Bancolombia president Juan Carlos Mora.

The vehicles being offered are local delivery trucks rated between three-to-10 tons. These are the type of trucks that are the most numerous in Colombia’s biggest cities.

Diesel-powered delivery trucks are so numerous in big cities that they cause 50% more total pollution than dump trucks, 400% more than buses and 500% more than cars, according to Bancolombia.

Hence eliminating such high-polluting vehicles would help cities including Medellin and Bogota to slash pollution that today has forced city officials to enact severe “pico y placa” driving restrictions on vehicles (alternating-day bans tied to license-plate numbers), Bancolombia noted.

Switching just 1,000 delivery trucks to zero-emission electric power would slash CO2 emissions by 24,800 tons over three years, equivalent to the CO2-removal work of 1.5 million trees, the company noted.

What’s more, the latest-generation electric trucks employ new technologies that deliver 40% more power than a conventional diesel- or gasolina-powered truck, according to Auteco.

While an electric truck will consume an annual average of 11,300 kiloWatt-hours of electricity at a total cost of COP$5 million (US$1,590), an equivalent diesel truck would consume 1,200 gallons of diesel fuel and 10 gallons of lube oils, costing a total of COP$12 million (US$3,815) annually, or more than twice as much as the electric truck, Bancolombia noted.

Originally published in the Medellin Herald, founded and edited by Jack Peckham. He covers a range of issues at the Herald, including transport and energy issues affecting Colombia Latin America.