Uruguay: Latin American leader in electric mobility

The first electric route has six stations for loading cars available in a 300-kilometer drive

In recent years, Uruguay has positioned itself as one of the Latin-American countries with the greatest progress in sustainable and economic development. This is how it has obtained the second position, after Chile, in the region with the best score in terms of social progress. Now, after inaugurating an electric station route for cars, Uruguay becomes the first country in Latin America to promote electric mobility on a large scale and with this cut greenhouse gas emissions.

This first Latin American electric route began to operate on Wednesday December 26, and has six charging points for vehicles, arranged over 300 kilometers. Initially, the project covers the tourist cities of Colonia del Sacramento (southwest) and Punta del Este (southwest). It is planned the route to extend through Brazilian border and adapt a total of 48 vehicular recharging points across the country.

The electric stations that replace traditional sources of gas fuel, are located every 60 kilometers to recharge electric or hybrid cars. According to statements from the president of the state electricity company of Uruguay (UTE, for its Spanish initials), Gonzalo Casaravilla, with this initiative Uruguay is positioned "one step ahead" of other countries and becomes a leader in innovation issues and electric power.

A 100% efficient alternative

Political interests and oligopolies in Latin America seem to slow down the growth of electrification of vehicle fleet. This is a result of making difficult the entry of electric or hybrid cars or making them so uncompetitive in the market that buying them supposes affording higher amounts of money. Ecuador, for instance, has one of the largest number of hybrid cars in circulation in Latin America and now Uruguay with its electric route, opens the economic and environmental conversation regarding this issue.

As Casaravilla explains, electric vehicles represent "about one eighth of operating cost per kilometer" and this operating cost is around "70% cheaper" compared to conventional cars. Other experts in electric mobility have found that electric cars take advantage of 90% of the fuel's energy potential, while combustion vehicles only use 40%.

Regarding environmental benefits, electric vehicles do not emit greenhouse gases and, therefore, their usage improve air quality in cities while reducing respiratory diseases in the population.

While countries such as Uruguay and Ecuador are already beginning to write their best practices related to a sustainable future in the region, other nations such as Colombia still have a long way to go. In this country only 489 vehicles are electric and 376 are hybrids out of 5 million in circulation. This figure corresponds to less than 1% of the market.

The electric route of Uruguay will allow charging of cars for free in the different points available until March 21, 2018. This with the aim of promoting new technologies and encouraging users to replace obsolete and inefficient practices by alternative clean and sustainable energies.

LatinAmerican Post | Krishna Jaramillo

Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza