Bloomberg Línea — Brazil’s Prosus-backed delivery company iFood is launching a financing line for electric motorbikes for delivery partners. Through a partnership with the Brazilian startup Voltz and BV bank, the deliverers can buy electric motorbikes for R$10,000 ($2,121.84). BV will offer a R$ 2,000 ($424) subsidy to the first 300 delivery drivers who apply for financing.
The new project is being implemented in a pilot phase in São Paulo, and will have 100 battery stations spread around the city.
Voltz’s motorbike comes with a charger, but the iFood project also has a battery exchange system.
The model works with a subscription in which users do not own the battery, but use it as a service (Battery as a Service), in a shared way. At the moment, there are already 33 battery exchange stations installed in 19 gas stations in the São Paulo capital.
The battery subscription plans vary from R$ 129 ($27) per month for those who drive up to 2,000 km to R$ 319 ($67) for unlimited mileage and exchanges.
Voltz speeds up
Voltz’s motorbike range with two batteries is 100 to 180 kilometers. The bikes reach 85km/h and have a two-year warranty.
On Monday, Voltz started operating a new electric motorbike factory in the Manaus Free Trade Zone, in Amazonas.
Last year, the automaker startup received a R$ 100 million ($21 million) investment led by fintech Creditas and is now investing R$ 12 million in the new factory.
The space has 11 thousand square meters and the Brazilian startup intends to produce 15,000 motorbikes per month at first.
“The Manaus plant is extremely important, as it allows us to take a step towards stabilizing the supply chain with China. In addition to ensuring better quality control, it also allows an opportunity to obtain better product costs,” Voltz CEO Renato Villar said in a press release.
With the new factory, Voltz said it will have a complete infrastructure for the production of electric motorbikes and scooters and will generate 200 new jobs.
For iFood, the electric motorbikes are part of a larger project to reduce carbon emissions.
“Our initiative is based on thinking about the advantages for our delivery drivers and the environment,” said André Borges, iFood’s head of sustainability, in a press statement.
In addition to supporting the use of electric bikes, the foodtech is carrying out iFood Pedal, a project that focuses on providing delivery drivers with affordable plans for using bicycles and e-bikes for deliveries.
“Our goal is to ensure that 50% of iFood deliveries are made by vehicles that do not use fossil fuels by 2025. It’s a win for our delivery person, for the environment and society as a whole,” said Borges.
Sustainability, a huge challenge for delivery firms
But the image of sustainability may be far from the delivery drivers registered on the platform, according to the conclusions of a study by USP (University of São Paulo).
Researcher Eduardo Souza followed for six months the routine of five delivery men who use bicycles in the city of São Paulo. With a heart monitor and a device placed on the bicycle, it was recorded that this type of work can be harmful to the deliverers’ health. This is because, besides the risks of injuries and precarious working conditions, delivery men on bicycles inhale five times more pollutants than those who travel by car or bus.
“Particularly in the city of São Paulo, the lack of cycling infrastructure, the low socio-territorial quality, and the high levels of atmospheric pollution may mitigate the supposed benefits that delivery services by bicycle promote to the city and the health of delivery cyclists. Added to this are demeaning working conditions, often precarious, exhausting, informal, and poorly paid,” writes the author of the doctoral thesis.
iFood has more than 200,000 active delivery drivers on its platform. Souza cites the June 2020 demonstration in São Paulo known as Breque dos Apps, when delivery drivers suspended their activities to protest for better working conditions. Last Friday (27), delivery drivers in São Paulo protested again for better working conditions.
Also read: Gig Economy Apps in Brazil Score Low for Decent Working Conditions: Study