Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Renault and CPFL close partnership for electric vehicles

By André Barros, from Porto Alegre, RS

The first Renault electric vehicles began circulating in Brazilian streets. CPFL, Companhia Paulista de Força e Luz, the electric energy distribution company in the interior of the state of São Paulo, acquired 2 models produced by the French vehicle manufacturer forced testing and improving the technology to meet local standards. Based on real usage conditions in corporate fleets, CPFL plans to draft a strategy of infrastructure installation for the supply of energy to the electric models. Vinicius Teixeira, the company's innovation manager, says the idea is to develop a network in the Campinas region. "We plan to offer the vehicles to our partners without any rental fees, for a period ranging between 4 and 5 years, and supply the necessary recharging units, whether internal, at the companies, or public locations. The latter would also be available for consumers interested in having an electric vehicle. Conversations with some companies to be part of the project are fairly advanced, especially those from the logistics segment," The first phase of the project is estimated to cost CPFL R$ 6.5 million, which, in addition to the acquisition of the electric models - a Zoe and a Kangoo, plus for additional models that still need to be defined - includes the costs related to the studies and a basic infrastructure. This phase should be concluded still in 2013 and will be internal, using the company's own models. Next, CPFL should offer the vehicles to the companies interested in participating in the project. This will enable it to draft the recharging stations distribution strategy. Teixeira expects that the number of models should reach double-digit figures starting with this phase. "There are many interested companies." Renault will supply the vehicles, batteries, and maintenance. According to Antônio Calcagnotto, the company's director of institutional affairs, each unit of the Zoe should cost around R$ 210 thousand, which includes all of the import-related tariffs. "Electric vehicles are classified under 'Others' and are charged the highest IPI tariff. If exempt from this tariff, these models could arrive at the dealers for around R$ 80 thousand." Teixeira said that Renault and CPFL currently made the investment to acquire the vehicle. He highlighted the very low operational cost of the Zoe. "For a regular consumer, each complete recharge costs around R$ 8. This value drops by 50% for business consumers. The driving range of the model is up to 200 km." The recharging time differs according to the model used. Residential usage can require up to 8 hours. However, in stations located in a highway, this time can drop to half an hour. The CPFL executive says that consumers will gradually get used to recharging. "It will be better planned according to the usage. Around 85% of Brazilians drive less than 70 km per day, so this driving range is quite acceptable. The quick recharges should be used only in long trips." According to the executive, electric vehicles can increase the consumption of electric energy up to 2% in Brazil, during the next 10 years. "We have complete capacity to supply this demand."

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