Technology

Volkswagen Trucks and Buses begins mass production of electric trucks in Brazil

The movement attempts to challenge the status quo of an industry whose electrification is still distant in Brazil, while several countries announce plans for the end of combustion engines

Photo: REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer
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  • The vehicle has a range of 200 kilometers on a single charge and can be fully recharged in 3 hours, or 30% in 15 minutes;
  • The electric truck itself costs 2.5 to 2.9 times more than the combustion model, depending on the dollar variation.

Volkswagen Trucks and Buses started on Monday the serial production in Brazil of its first electric truck, after months of testing and development of a project that began in 2017 and that has Ambev as its first customer.

The truck, aimed at urban deliveries and called e-Delivery, has battery packs imported from Chinese CATL by national firm Moura, motor from Brazilian WEG, and recharging components from German Siemens.

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The movement tries to challenge the status quo of an industry whose electrification is still distant in Brazil, while several countries announce plans for the end of combustion engines.

“We are sizing the factory for 1,000 to 3,000 units per year,” said the president of Volkswagen Trucks and Buses, a unit of the Traton group, Roberto Cortes.

From this volume, Ambev should have 100 units this year, from a total of 1,600 electric trucks ordered until 2023. The electric truck has autonomy for 200 kilometers on a single charge and can be fully recharged in 3 hours, or 30% in 15 minutes, said the executive.

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As a comparison, the production capacity of the diesel version of the e-Delivery is about 15,000 units per year. The vehicles are manufactured in Brazilian city of Resende, where the company’s manufacturing complex and production partners are located.

“If it reaches 7,000 (assembled units of the e-Delivery), it already starts to make sense”, said Cortes about an eventual nationalization of important components of the electric truck, such as the battery. The component comes from China to the Moura factory in Pernambuco, where it is adjusted before being shipped back to Resende, where it is assembled in the vehicles.

According to Cortes, the price of the battery delivered to Resende alone is already higher than the price of the diesel version of the e-Delivery. The electric truck itself costs 2.5 to 2.9 times more than the combustion model, depending on the dollar variation.

READ ALSO: Volvo to sell only hybrid and electric cars in Brazil, Latin America is next

The commercial launch of the electric truck occurs in July when Volkswagen Trucks and Buses should disclose new customers for the electric truck, Cortes said. When questioned about new electric models, the executive stated that the next one will be an urban transport bus, with no date yet to be launched.

The e-Delivery comes at a time when the global industry has been facing a severe shortage of semiconductors. On Friday, Volkswagen announced a 10-day suspension of auto manufacturing at two plants in São Paulo and another in Paraná due to chip shortages.

There are also fears in Brazil of a possible crisis in the energy supply due to the low level of the hydroelectric power plant reservoirs.

Cortes said that in both cases the launch of e-Delivery should be little impacted by the relatively low volume of deliveries for the time being.

“The trend is that urban electric vehicles have everything to have a fairly large demand,” said the CEO of Volkswagen Trucks and Buses. “As we have (an eventual) nationalization of the battery it will start to make sense. Today we are in 30 countries with exports and there is no reason for (the e-Delivery) not to be exported,” he added.

(Translated by LABS)

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