Commitment to reduce CO2 by 50% leads private sector to decarbonize fleets

Companies are betting on electric vehicles to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

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Electromobility, a concept related to the transition from internal combustion vehicles to electric ones, has become a global trend and has also been gaining ground in Brazil.

In line with the pledge to halve the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) by 2030 undertaken by Brazil at the United Nations Climate Change Conference – COP26 – several industries are adopting more sustainable policies for energy transition. The substitution of fossil-fuel vehicles by electric vehicles (EVs) is one of them.

The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy is part of a process called decarbonization, which aims to achieve the neutralization of CO2 emissions from the use of non-renewable and more polluting fuels. Oil, coal, and natural gas are examples of non-renewable fuels, which range from diesel and gasoline used in cars to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), very common in the daily life of Brazilians.

For Márcio Severine, Infrastructure Director and member of the Board of Directors of the Brazilian Electric Vehicle Association (ABVE), Brazilians are receptive and are increasingly adhering to electromobility, especially regarding the electrification of company fleets.

“Brazilians are early adopters of new technologies, and the electric car is another innovation being well received in the market. We have observed a constant evolution in the number of electric vehicles in circulation, mainly in fleets, and moving towards vehicles for individuals”.

—  Márcio Severine, Infrastructure Director and member of the Board of Directors of the Brazilian Electric Vehicle Association (ABVE)

A survey by ABVE confirms the trend: the electric fleet in circulation in Brazil (including hybrid vehicles) exceeded 100,000 vehicles in 2022. According to data from the National Federation of Automotive Vehicles Distribution (Fenabrave), the number of electric cars on sale increased by almost 35% in the first half of 2022 compared to the same period of the previous year.

As part of private sector initiatives to promote decarbonization, JBS (JBSS3), the world’s largest food company, launched a 100% electric vehicle leasing company, No Carbon, responsible for managing a fleet of refrigerated trucks. The launch is part of a strategy aligned to the company’s goal of becoming Net Zero by 2040; i.e., zeroing the net balance of greenhouse gas emissions and offsetting the residues.

“With No Carbon, JBS creates an electric vehicle leasing business to meet internal demand in the retail distribution of Friboi, Seara, and Swift products and also to serve external clients who wish to operate a sustainable fleet.”

—  Maria Paula Silveira Bibar, Corporate Sustainability Manager - JBS Brazil

To meet JBS’s demand, No Carbon will have a fleet of 100% electric and refrigerated urban cargo (VUC) trucks, which will replace the diesel models used by the company’s logistics service providers. Each truck is capable of transporting up to four tons of refrigerated and frozen products and can be recharged at the brands’ distribution centers, scattered across several locations in Brazil.

The medium-term plan is to expand the leasing of No Carbon vehicles to other players with high demand for logistics services and that are interested in the electrification of their fleets, such as the retail and e-commerce industries. The intention is to expand JBS’ sustainable initiative and encourage the transition to electric vehicles in the Brazilian market. It is estimated that each electric VUC truck avoids the release of 30 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. Large-scale adoption would considerably improve air quality in Brazilian cities such as São Paulo, which has had air pollution above the recommended levels by the World Health Organization for 22 consecutive years, according to data from the Institute of Energy and Environment of Brazil (IEMA).

The concentration of pollutant gases in the atmosphere is responsible for several health problems in the Brazilian population, both acute and chronic, such as asthma. For IEMA specialists, the main factor that affects the air quality on a daily basis is the traffic of vehicles powered by fossil fuels, such as gasoline and diesel.

In addition to the lower environmental impact, there is another important advantage of electric cars: the cost of operation and maintenance can be up to 83% cheaper than the conventional model. This is because they do not have parts such as air filters, exhaust systems, and injection pumps, which make repairs more costly.

An energy transition would change the Brazilian and the global economy as a whole, encompassing not only cargo transportation, but also public and individual transportation.

“Brazil has been a producer and exporter of vehicles for many years and we cannot lose this. We have to invest in manufacturing electric vehicles and batteries. In this new economy, we cannot make room for other countries to take over a market in which we have always had a leading role.”

—  Márcio Severine, Infrastructure Director and member of the Board of Directors of the Brazilian Electric Vehicle Association (ABVE)

The competition is fierce: the United States, for example, has set a goal that 50% of the cars sold in the country will be electric by 2030. Countries such as Norway and the Netherlands are leading this transition in the European Union, according to the EV Readiness Index 2022 study. Severine believes that, despite the need for greater investment in development and infrastructure, the electric vehicle market in Brazil has the potential to surpass developed countries due to the Brazilian energy matrix, which is quite diverse. The forecast is that the numbers will grow even more in the coming years with the allocation of resources to the sector.

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