The electric vehicles (EV) market will continue to grow in Colombia in 2021, if the ever-growing popularity of EVs between 2011 and 2020 in the country is any indication.
Many inhibiting factors such as “range anxiety" and the rarity of charging points are now—almost—out of the way.
The only remaining concern for the Colombian customer is the relatively high initial cost of an EV, though most consumers are coming to the conclusion that the difference between the price of hydrocarbon fuels versus electricity can more than make up for the initial price gap in the long run.
Roughly speaking, a midrange family electric car costs twice as much as a car running on petrol or diesel. The difference in fuel prices, however, can offset this within about three years, depending on one's average yearly mileage.
Marco Pastrana, General Manager of Motorysa, a major distributor of EVs, which has been active in Colombia since 2012, told TBY that Colombia is ahead of the rest of Latin America in adopting EVs.
While explaining his company's role as a local distributor of EVs and hybrid cars manufactured by automotive giants such as Mitsubishi, Mercedes-Benz, and Fuso, Pastrana added that EVs have been largely successful in the Colombian market, with the exception of the year 2020 in which sales were plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also of note is the tendency among Colombian customers to choose hybrid cars over fully electric vehicles—probably out of a desire to have the best of both worlds.
This may also be due to a general concern regarding the shortage of charging points in certain parts of the country.
Out of the total of 22,874 EVs which were sold in the country in July, 2019, only 203 of them were pure EVs, in the true sense of the word, according to the Global Fleet.
Colombians must not worry, however, as the number of charging points is already on the rise. EV charging stations are popping up—almost overnight—across Colombia.
The number of new installations is so high that in December 2020 the Colombian Ministry of Energy saw fit to release a document to determine the minimum technical requirements for EV charging stations, thus ensuring the compatibility and safety of charging stations launched in Colombia.
Nevertheless, it seems that even with the expansion of charging infrastructure, Colombians prefer to err on the side of caution and keep their options open. In 2020, Toyota Corolla—a hybrid midrange car—had the highest market share in the EV segment (31.7%), followed by Kia Sportage Hybrid (10.3%), and Ford Escape HEV (7.8%).
A Chinese automaker specializing in EVs has also ventured into the Colombian market. Pastrana told TBY about the transfer of technology from China to Colombia thanks to the signing of a deal between Motorysa and the Chinese EV manufacturer.
By the end of 2020, Motorysa had inaugurated showrooms in Bogotá and Medellín, planning to become the nation's market leader in EVs and hybrid cars by primarily relying on the sales of BYD brand vehicles, as well as EVs made by Mercedes, Freightliner, Fuso, and Mitsubishi.
Colombia's shift to EVs in certainly a welcome development for the country's ecosystem. Despite having one of the highest rates of biodiversity in the world, Colombia—and especially its capital Bogotá—have for years struggled with pollution and traffic congestion.
As such, it stands to reason that the Colombian government should embrace the adoption of EVs across the country.
“Government support is critical to promoting the purchase of electric vehicles[;] there are still regulatory, policy, economic, infrastructure and market challenges. High investment is one of the biggest barriers, but it is expected that, with advances in technology in the sector, this obstacle will be reduced more and more and in the coming years, the price difference between conventional and electric cars will be minimal," an article by the World Energy Council noted.
Indeed, the government has come up with a handful of incentives, though the price gap between EVs and cars running on internal combustion engines still exists.
Among the government's incentives for EV owners are tax cuts, lower electricity tariffs, and some exemptions from the Pico y Placa (“Peak and Plate") law—a national measure to mitigate the traffic congestion and pollution problems by restricting the presence of cars on the roads based on their plate numbers on each day of the week.
Many in the EV industry are happy with the active role the Colombian government is playing in the electrification of the country's fleet.
“Since 2016, we have had one of the strongest regulations in getting incentives for importing and selling electric vehicles. That means the Colombian government already has, for example, zero duties, VAT, and consumption tax for electric vehicles imported into the country, which is great for customers and brands like Motorysa to import vehicles," Motorysa's general manager told TBY.