01 Oct Videocafé Series: Cargo Trucks Transition to Clean Energy Represents a Great Challenge in Latin America
New energy alternatives like gas, electricity or hydrogen for vehicles, specifically in cargo transportation, were highlighted in the debate of the Latam Mobility Videocafé Series, an event moderated by Jorge Suárez, Commercial Director of VEMO, where prestigious mobility leaders offer their points of view.
This month’s edition had the introductory participation of Juan Daniel Rueda, responsible for Electromobility Strategy at Terpel, who explained that one of the main tasks of the company is to offer solutions to people who need mobility.
He explained that the organization he represents is one of the largest fuel distributors in the region, based in Colombia and with presence in Panama, Peru and Dominican Republic, with the goal of developing these businesses and making people independent with the energy level being established in Latin America.
Rueda emphasized that Terpel has a cargo network throughout Colombia, with an offer that embraces more than just fuels, but services and competing stores. “We inaugurated our fifth station south of Bogotá and we will continue expanding the network along the highways of the country. We offer Wifi, space to eat, charging cell phones, etc. We offer more than just fuel distribution, we give them an experience” he said.
Freight Transportation in Argentina
Pedro Orbaiz, Director of 35 South, emphasizes his work on the transition of clean energy to transportation fleets. He noted the importance of understanding how to deploy non-polluting elements across different cities with public transportation and implementing efficient tools on heavy-duty vehicles.
Regarding the current situation of cargo trucks in Argentina, Orbaiz stated that large companies operate not with their own fleet but by hiring outsourced ones, which have equipment with a very low average life span and mostly diesel.
“They become old and pollutant. The system is articulated so that the old trucks operate until being damaged, and this has an impact on air quality, roads and infrastructure,” he said.
On the technologies available to reverse the difficulties with vehicles used for a long time, Orbaiz explained that in Argentina they have access to gas and a large amount of renewable energies. He believes that the fastest way to decarbonize is the use of biofuels, such as zero-sulfur diesel.
He highlighted that gas is beginning to be considered as an alternative, but the costs are highly variable due to the distribution chain. He also revealed that hydrogen and electric vehicles are an innovation that has not yet been established, but are of interest for future plans.
Situation in Mexico
José Gutiérrez, Co-Founder of High Performance Consulting, explained that Monterrey, one of the three main cities in Mexico, has the highest traffic flow in terms of cargo transportation, with trucks that are up to 16 years old, generating a large amount of carbon emissions.
He assured that the challenge is to deepen the renewal of these vehicles, pointing out that the issue of road safety is a topic to be taken into account within the transition strategy from diesel to gas vehicles or other clean energies.
“Natural gas has been around for many years in Mexico, but it has not been popular due to infrastructure issues, since distances are very long and there are probably charging stations but not public ones. There is a lack of charging stations and autonomy, which is why regular diesel continues,” Gutiérrez said.
“We can have good clean energy options when we have support from the government and investors to generate gas, hydrogen and electric infrastructures. For the short term, we need low-sulfur diesel. It is not only a consumption issue, but also other tools such as infrastructure,” he emphasized.
Clean Energy in Colombia
Jorge Iván Vélez, Marketing Professional and Representative of EPM Gas Natural considers that the deployment to achieve the transition of fleets from diesel to gas has been very important.
He stated that the clean energy market has taken an interesting turn, with many investors seeing in Colombia an opportunity to transform vehicles to gas.
“There are several companies, there is competition, which is positive and convenient for customers to choose from. At the moment of purchasing vehicles, we are giving bonuses, the State offers tax benefits such as VAT exclusion, and they end up being cheaper than diesel units. We are improving so incentives are easy to capitalize”, he said.
For Vélez, it is essential to renew the vehicle fleet, because it is the one emitting the most emissions.
John Ladino, Mobility Market Director of Vanti, said that their main focus is to promote the use of natural gas for cargo transportation, because it represents an opportunity to move goods efficiently and sustainably.
He explained that currently, Colombia has very obsolete heavy units, so the challenge is to lead the renovation. “Multinational companies are coming with sustainability policies and that has allowed a restoration on the market, which allows us to meet better contracts. It is not a fast process, but we are on the right track. We have to work harder to make the transition to new fleets, so the environment will benefit”.
Ladino stressed that the issue of autonomy is fundamental to freight logistics, because it is inefficient to recharge every 100 kilometers. “Our manufacturers guarantee 350 kilometers of autonomy, it is an important advance.”
He pointed out that in terms of gas, they have a 790-station network where they ensure carriers can refuel and reach their destinations without problems, and most of them use gas.
“Certain changes in public policy have arisen which allow drivers to capitalize on benefits. There are no vehicle and tax restrictions. Very important advances have been made that are going to benefit logistics. We need to impact on the environment, but also make it profitable for companies,” added Ladino.
Also from Colombia, Silvia Ordoñez Forero, Leader of Cities and Mobility at TGI assured that they are working hard to impact the transformation of mobility and cargo transportation.
“Colombia is a country of gas, we have been learning a lot and developing work with the entire industry, reaching achievements to massify gas in mobility replacing polluting energies”, she said.
Ordoñez explained that new cars are what is needed for cargo transportation efficiency and the change towards decarbonization, to generate life quality.
She agreed with the other panelists at the Videocafé Series that one of the barriers is vehicle fleet replacement, for which she assures that there is a lot of work to be done. She also emphasized the importance of having financial tools to facilitate the access of these resources to the “man-truck” with the objective of changing vehicles.
Finally, Ordoñez pointed out that liquefied gas is an evolving energy source in Colombia, and that it will be an alternative for cargo transportation; therefore, plans are being developed to include it into the energy matrix to be used in cargo trucks. “We hope to have it available soon,” she concluded.