December 13, 2018 / 7:04 PM / a year ago

Enel-BYD say Chile electric bus roll-out heralds more for region

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Europe’s biggest utility Enel and Chinese electric vehicle giant BYD on Thursday marked the arrival of 100 electric buses in Chile and said they would work together on similar plans for three other Latin American nations.

Alberto Piglia, Head of e-mobility global of ENEL poses for a picture as Chile's government launches the new fleet of electric buses for public transport in Santiago, Chile December 13, 2018. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

Enel ENCH.SN provided the financing for Chile to acquire the buses from BYD (0285.HK) for the capital Santiago, as well as the charging stations.

Chile represents a jumping off point into Latin America for two companies both seeking to dominate a green car revolution that is projected to see electric and hybrid vehicles account for 30 percent of the global market by 2030.

Alberto Piglia, Enel’s global head of e-mobility, told Reuters that BYD and Enel were talking to the governments of Brazil, Peru and Colombia as well as private firms with a view to offering the same model.

“This is a starting point for us and we will continue to work as we are doing in Chile and across the region,” he said. “There will be an imitation game - others will see how good this is and adapt it to their local markets.”

He said Enel X, Enel’s “e-Solutions” division, would invest more than 300 million euros ($340 million) in electromobility next year, including extending its 30-million euro investment in Chile this year to other parts of Latin America.

Chile’s ambitious plan involves rolling out electric scooters, cars, taxis and trucks to increase the number of electric vehicles tenfold by 2022 and electrify public transport entirely by 2050.

Stella Li, BYD’s vice-president, said there was no need to wait to 2050. “We can do that in the next five to ten years if they want,” she said. “Shenzhen, the fourth-largest city in China, (where BYD is headquartered) electrified all its buses in three years.

“If you bring the finance model, you don’t need government to put a lot of money in, just to provide the policy and utility and private companies will figure it out.”

Piglia said Enel was looking at financing more buses, and also tackling Chile’s infrastructure shortages for electric vehicles by rolling out car charging stations in supermarkets, shopping malls and cinemas “by the end of next year”.

BYD’s Li said it would be bidding to provide more buses for Santiago. She said BYD recently signed a deal with Corpus Saneamento e Obras Ltd (Corpus) to provide refuse and forklift trucks for Indaiatuba, Brazil, and confirmed joint talks with Enel with the governments of Brazil, China and Peru on “tenders, public-private partnerships and battery leasing” for public transport.

Reporting by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Alistair Bell

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