Latin America Adding Electric Buses, Taxis

The environmental group C40 was originally known as the Large Cities Climate Leadership Group. Founded in 2005, C40 is a group of cities working to reduce urban carbon emissions and to address climate change. It believes its mission is crucial, as cities contain around 50 percent of the world’s population, consume 75 percent of the world’s energy and produce 80 percent of its greenhouse gases. In April 2011, C40 and the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) announced plans to merge their climate leadership.

Summit meetings and white papers aside, what does a group like this actually do?

mitsubishi-i-miev-taxi

image via Mitsubishi

For starters, the group launched the C40/CCI Hybrid and Electric Bus Test Program which aims to develop a market for fuel efficient, low-carbon buses in Latin America, where urban transportation is the fastest growing source of carbon emissions. Four C40 cities are participating, including three in Brazil—Rio de Janeiro, which launched the program in June 2011; Sao Paulo, where testing began in October 2011; and Curitiba—as well Bogota, Colombia.

Bogota is in the process of launching a fleet of 50 electric vehicles in its city-center taxi fleet right now. The vehicles, part of a new pilot program also sponsored by C40/CCI, have been supplied by BYD (the e6 model) and Mitsubishi (the i‐MiEV model, pictured above) will benefit from a new charging infrastructure set up by electric utility company Codensa.

The conversion to electric vehicle technology is expected to avoid the daily consumption of seven gallons of fossil fuel per vehicle. Spread out across the 50-strong taxi fleet, that seven gallons represents a cut in operating costs of 80 percent and a slashing of greenhouse gasses by 70 percent.

If the program is successful across all markets, it is expected to see the deployment of 9,000 buses across Latin American cities and reduce annual CO2 emissions by 566,000 tons by 2016. So far, test results are promising, indicating CO2 emissions from hybrid buses are at least 30 percent lower than those from normal diesel buses.

The first taxis are expected to be operational in the city in the next few months

Steve Duda lives in West Seattle, WA with three dogs and a lot of outdoor gear. A part-time fly fishing fishing guide and full-time writer, Steve’s work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Seattle Weekly, American Angler, Fly Fish Journal, The Drake, Democracy Now! and many others.