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Date: April 8, 2024
What are the “heavyweights” dominating the electric bus market in Latin America?
By Marcia Carrara
Latin America

What are the “heavyweights” dominating the electric bus market in Latin America?

There are several electric bus companies exerting their dominance in the region. Which brand leads in each market and what are the prospects? The analysis from Mobility Portal Latinoamérica.
electric buses in LATAM
Tranmilenio granted Colombia the status of being one of the leaders in Latin America in terms of the number of electric buses.

The electric bus market is gaining ground in Latin America, with countries like Chile and Colombia leading at a regional level.

In fact, Chile has the second-largest fleet of electric buses in the world after China, with Colombia following closely behind. Mexico is another significant player, although it lags behind in comparison due to its population size.

There are “heavyweights” in the industry such as BYD, Foton, Yutong, Volvo, or Higer that dominate the markets in the region, along with other local initiatives paving the way to electrify the sector.

Here’s the analysis from Mobility Portal Latinoamérica, country by country.

Argentina

Most of the units in the Argentine market are from BYD, with others coming from Zhongtong, Yutong, and other firms.

In Mendoza and Santiago del Estero, for example, electric buses from Corven are in circulation. These are the first experiences with this technology for urban passenger transport from the Argentine company.

Precisely, Corven’s buses are manufactured by Zhongtong Bus Holding Co., a Chinese company recognized worldwide.

With the aim of advancing the conversion of electric buses for the urban passenger system, the National University of La Plata (UNLP) signed an agreement with the company Nueve de Julio SAT.

The Aerospace Technological Center (CTA-UNLP), belonging to the Faculty of Engineering, and the transport company will provide technology and part of their own equipment for the research, development, and implementation of this plan to electrify part of the fleet in La Plata.

Brazil

Brands like Eletra, BYD, Higer, and Mercedes Benz dominate the market in the giant Brazil.

The Brazilian electric bus company, trolleybuses, and e-trofit based in São Bernardo do Campo (SP) estimate to manufacture 1,800 electric units for distribution in the country this 2024.

Eletra is one of the “star” buses from Brazil

On the other hand, Mercedes Benz delivered the first 50 electric units to the companies Metrópole Paulista (40 units), MobiBrasil (8), and Sambaíba (2) at the end of last year, operators of the public transport system in the city of São Paulo.

Higer Bus, which operates in partnership with TEVX Motors, had announced its first factory in Pecém, where from 2025 it will produce electric buses and trucks for the national market.

And BYD will have its first electric car plant in Brazil outside of Asia, at a time when the Chinese giant seeks to expand its geographical reach.

Chile

In the neighboring country, the two major players are Foton and BYD, although there are also units from Yutong and King Long.

Double-decker bus operated by Metbus

Foton completed last May the arrival in Chile of one of the largest fleets of emission-free buses in Latin America, and Andes Motor became the main supplier of this type of vehicles for the Metropolitan Mobility Network (Red).

It is worth noting that the city with the highest number of zero-emission units in circulation is the Chilean capital, Santiago.

Meanwhile, BYD introduced double-decker fleets operated by Metbus. These electrified buses have a total capacity of 97 passengers, with 70 seats. Another important detail is the charging time: it takes only between an hour and a half and two hours.

Colombia

Colombia and Chile vie for dominance in the region, with streets across the country seeing buses from BYD, Sunwin, Yutong, and Zhong Tong. Of the total, Bogotá boasts the highest number.

However, recently, Marcopolo Superpolo launched its line of electric and hydrogen buses in the coffee-growing region. These are two units that the leading bus brand in Colombia fully assembled in the country.

Precisely, the future fleet of hydrogen buses will be integrated into the ecosystem designed by the city and it is expected that they will be able to rest at the country’s first green hydrogen generation station in Bogotá.

Mexico

Yutong, Sunwin, and Volvo lead the electric bus market in Mexico. It is the country with the third-largest fleet in Latin America, following Chile and Colombia.

Mercedes Benz is also making its move to operate zero-emission fleets in the Aztec nation. In fact, after three decades of operation, it introduced the electric bus called eO500U.

Volvo makes a strong impact in Mexico.

The Swedish manufacturer, Volvo, continues to invest in zero-emission or fossil fuel-free vehicles in Mexico. Last year, it introduced “Luminus”, its new jewel of locally manufactured electric transportation.

It is worth noting that Mexico City has the highest number of electric units in the country.

Recently, Metrobús incorporated around 55 electric buses into its current network, where it operates 64 units of this type. It almost doubles the number of electric vehicles in operation.

Paraguay

Paraguay has two Zhongtong buses in operation. Additionally, since April, a fleet of 20 zero-emission units has been servicing Ciudad del Este.

Furthermore, the Taiwanese company Master Transportation Bus Manufacturing conducted a preliminary survey on the quality of public transportation in the country to introduce electric mobility in the urban bus segment.

In addition to the chassis and body production project, there has been discussion about the potential export of electric buses to Brazil.

Perú

Electric bus of Modasa

The country has 23 units operating in the Cercado de Lima and La Victoria areas, manufactured by BYD, Modasa, King Long, and Skywell.

Last October, the first electric bus manufactured in Peru was presented in Lima, which will provide urban transportation services. This electric bus was developed by Modasa and has a capacity for around 85 passengers.

Uruguay

The Uruguayan Company of Collective Transport S.A. (Cutcsa) signed a contract with the Chinese company Higer for the purchase of electric buses.

BYD is the other major player, and they aim to close the deal for the arrival of their buses in March.

BYD unit circulating at Montevideo

This involves a total of about 200 units – 100 from Higer and 100 from BYD – and the plan by 2040 is for all their vehicles to be zero-emission. They will be added to the existing fleet in the country.

It is worth noting that since 2020, the Uruguayan company has had 20 electric units from BYD as part of the Movés project, implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and executed by the Ministry of Industry, Energy, and Mining (MIEM) and the Ministry of Housing and Territorial Planning (Mvotma).

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