Mexican companies accelerate migration to electric vehicles

During the shortage of gasoline at the beginning of the year, many people feared that there will be a lack of food. The reality is that large consumer companies such as Bimbo, Unilever or the delivery of beers and soft drinks have been gradually migrating their fleet of vehicles with diesel and gasoline to electric units or that consume natural gas.

Electric vehicles circulate every day, even during environmental contingencies and considerably reduce a company's gas expenses. Photo: Moldex website
Electric vehicles circulate every day, even during environmental contingencies and considerably reduce a company's gas expenses. Photo: Moldex website

Grupo Bimbo, one of the main consumer companies in the country, has its own electric vehicle company: Moldex. 

Moldex was dedicated to the manufacture of wire displays to place loaves and snacks at the points of sale, but since 2014 it has started to manufacture electric vehicles for the distribution of goods of Grupo Bimbo.

In 2018, Bimbo operated 430 electric trucks and 481 natural gas trucks, and as a result, it does not depend on diesel or gasoline to carry out its distribution operations. Electric trucks only operate in Mexico, since in Brazil the company uses vehicles powered by ethanol, and in Guatemala, Chile and Peru vehicles powered by LP gas, while in Colombia they use natural gas vehicles.

Grupo Bimbo has decreased its LP gas spending by 37% since 2010 and 3% its electricity expense for electric vehicles compared to 2012, according to the company's Annual Report 2018.

In total, it has a fleet of 2 thousand 218 vehicles in Mexico and South America.

According to Element Fleet, a company dedicated to the management of crews with the incorporation of hybrid or electric vehicles, a company saves up to 50% in the annual expenditure on gasoline.

And although the initial cost of a hybrid or electric vehicle is higher than gasoline, at five years the inflection point is reached where the fuel savings offset the price of the vehicle.

Miguel Peña, director of Product and Marketing at Element Fleet, said that migrating diesel or gasoline fleets to electric or hybrid vehicles is a very strong trend in companies, but still with many challenges since these new technologies are still very expensive.

"The type of companies that are migrating are the global ones, where the policies within the company are dictated from another country, few national companies ask for this change, it's a culture issue".

By sectors, food and beverage companies are the ones that are migrating their fleet to vehicles with alternative technologies.

Element Fleet helped a company move its fleet of 600 vehicles to hybrids. The company spent 7 million pesos a year on fuel and now spends only 3.5 million pesos a year; that is, 50% less.

"And that the hybrid still has a combustion engine that only increases the fuel efficiency, in electric, it is zero the cost in fuel, but the infrastructure [for these vehicles] is still complicated".

In addition to lower fuel costs, companies that use hybrid or electric vehicles benefit from the exemption in the payment of tenure and a discount of 20% when using motorways in Mexico City, such as the Supervía Poniente, the Autopista Urbana Sur, and the Autopista Urbana Norte.

HINO, a Japanese manufacturer of electric hybrid trucks, sells to companies such as Gruma, Unilever, Liverpool, Pharmaceutical PISA, Paquetexpress, Almex, Envia and Farmatodo, but their best customer is Grupo Pepsico.

To date, Grupo Pepsico has 190 of these electric hybrid trucks for the distribution of goods.

Grupo Modelo began in April a trial period of three months of an electric truck manufactured by the Chinese company BYD, which will be used for distribution in the Metropolitan Area of ​​the Valley of Mexico.

Víctor Kortenhaus, Logistics Director at Grupo Modelo, said that due to the nature of the product that Grupo Modelo provides, they need an electric vehicle that can load more than 10 tons, but few companies manufacture this type of units.

"Our product is quite heavy, the minimum is 10 tons, Bimbo distributes with vehicles with a capacity of 700 kilos, that is, less than a ton. One of us is bigger because we need a bigger load capacity. BYD is a very reliable supplier of batteries, it is the second seller of electric vehicles in China and they managed to obtain a high-capacity electric car that neither International, Navistar or Volkswagen have managed to bring".

Grupo Modelo's fleet consists of 3,000 distribution trucks throughout the country, of which 450 travel through the Metropolitan Zone of the Valley of Mexico. The company's intention is to reduce its CO2 emissions by 25% by 2025, so that little by little it will incorporate electric vehicles.

"Replacing the fleet is more a matter of total cost to know if we are going forward or not, we have to look at the maintenance costs of a battery, the estimate is that maintenance is much lower than a diesel vehicle because it has fewer parts, it's something new. But it can be a solution to replace 100% of our fleet".

Grupo Modelo could buy about 2 thousand electric trucks in the next three years. The BYD electric truck has a load capacity of 11.5 tons and a range of 150 kilometers with a battery charge, which recharges in two and a half hours.

Besides the benefit in eliminating the use of diesel, the electric truck does not emit polluting gases and is totally silent.

In October 2018, FEMSA, Coca-Cola bottler and operator of the OXXO stores, developed a prototype of an electric vehicle, through Solistica and Grupo Quimmco. Solistica is the logistics unit of FEMSA, with a fleet of 6,278 vehicles to deliver products in 160,000 weekly delivery points.

The powertrain of this electric vehicle will be developed by Quimmco according to the operational needs of the company, and it is estimated that five vehicles of this type will be manufactured in the coming months.

The electric vehicle prototype is part of the projects of the Sustainable Mobility Committee of FEMSA, created from 2013, whose objective is to develop strategies to take advantage of clean technologies and alternative fuels, to reduce the use of fossil fuels.

By Agencies

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Moldex of Grupo Bimbo, goes with Giant Motors for the development of electric taxis

The Mexican metal-mechanic company, Moldex, achieved an important association for the development of its electric vehicles, with the automotive company Giant Motors.

The project that will be finalized by the two corporations is intended to replace an important part of the more than 130,000 taxis that operate today in the capital; the expectation is that at the end of this year there will be enough stock for the replacement of gasoline taxis.

In the words of Elias Massri, CEO of Giant Motors Latin America, the main challenge of this association is to provide vehicles with sufficient autonomy, with ultra-fast charging batteries, which allow vehicles to circulate for long periods of time. Traditional taxis are running empty half the time while looking for passengers.

For this reason, the viability of electric taxis is one of the most important points of the consortium. The development of the units, on the other hand, will be given by four Mexican universities, the Autonomous Metropolitan one of them.

Moldex, which is a unit of the Bimbo group, since last February had reported the viability of its VDT units; that is, two electric charging models, the VDT 1 and VDT2, that could redefine the commercial transport of goods, since the two models have a range of up to 100 kilometers and a load capacity of one ton.

Then, the viability of the VDT had been reported with placings by Moldex, when starting its sale open to the public, and with a stock of 320 units of the first model. Elias Massri explained that the success in the sale of these, which has occurred jointly with Giant Motors, was what gave rise to the new project.

The financial group Inbursa, owned by Carlos Slim, has a 50% stake in Giant Motors, so the electric taxi project could have an important capital boost. However, the investment amounts have not been disclosed so far.