If current trends continue, more than 5,000 electric buses will be deployed annually in Latin American and Caribbean cities from 2025 onwards. Innovative business models are needed to help overcome

barriers to mass electric transport, but more fiscal support is needed.

Panama, 29 July 2021.- Changes in transport use in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and national recovery plans are an opportunity for governments and businesses in Latin America and the Caribbean to accelerate the transition to electric mobility, according to a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report launched today.

The report "Electric Mobility: Progress in Latin America and the Caribbean - 4th edition" is UNEP's annual review, in collaboration with EUROCLIMA+, of the state of this sector which, according to the authors, is gaining momentum as users opt for cleaner means of transport, and governments increase the ambition of their climate commitments and outline their policies to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

“2020 was a disruptive year for transport in the region. If countries and companies know how to take advantage of the context, the transformations we see today can open the way to fully sustainable mobility with a clean energy matrix," said Gustavo Máñez, UNEP's regional coordinator for Climate Change in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The transport sector is responsible for 15% of greenhouse gas emissions in the region and is a major contributor to air pollution.

According to the report, 27 of the 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have prioritised transport as a central element in reaching their emission reduction targets assumed under the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. However, to date, countries in the region do not have short- and medium-term targets for ending the sale of combustion vehicles.

In 2020, national efforts to formulate electric mobility strategies grew. Argentina, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Paraguay are in the process of developing their plans. Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama and the Dominican Republic have already published national policies in previous years.

Urban public transport remains a priority in mobility plans in the region, which has the highest bus use per capita and is one of the most urbanised in the world - 80% of its inhabitants live in cities. However, the mobility restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic have put a strain on some of the public transport systems, due to reduced ridership, driving active mobility and electric micro-mobility. As these restrictions begin to be relaxed and a moderate return to normality begins, it is crucial that public transport does not lose ground to private vehicles.

Among the cities that stand out in Latin America for their greatest progress in the electrification of public transport buses in 2020 were Bogotá (Colombia), with the acquisition of 406 units, and Mexico City (Mexico), which added 193 trolleybuses. In the Caribbean, Barbados, with a population of about 300,000, put 33 buses into circulation for operation in its capital, Bridgetown. According to the report, if current trends continue, more than 5,000 electric buses will be deployed annually in Latin American cities by 2025.

The private electric vehicle market also grew in 2020. In Costa Rica, the registration of electric cars grew 77% in 2020 and the registration of motorbikes and similar vehicles increased 36%. In Peru, imports of electric motorbikes increased 220% year-on-year, according to the report. Still, there is a lack of heterogeneity in the range and category of electric vehicles in some countries that hinders the technological transition.

The report highlights that countries in the region have innovated in developing business models that circumvent the high upfront costs of electrification and reduce the associated financial risks. For example, in the city of Bogotá, Colombia, schemes were established with different levels of unbundling the investment, separating the provision of vehicles, enclosures including charging infrastructure, and operation. However, these models are not easily replicable, and it is necessary to integrate risk-reducing elements to find options for the massification of electric fleets.

The authors of the report call for the creation of financial mechanisms to facilitate the mass adoption of electric vehicles, as well as the installation of charging infrastructure. In this regard, they consider that, given the restrictive fiscal situation in the countries of the region, it is crucial that spending and investment in transport be oriented towards cleaner solutions in the long term and that fossil fuel subsidies be reconsidered.

This year's report provides a qualitative case study-based analysis of trends in electric mobility during 2020. The report was prepared with information gathered by the MOVE platform team in 14 countries in the region.

New initiative seeks ambitious commitments

During the launch event, UNEP's MOVE platform, supported by EUROCLIMA+, to accelerate the transition to electric mobility presented the regional MoveToZero initiative, which will bring together public and private sector commitments to zero-emission transport.

MoveToZero, which aims to promote the acquisition of electric vehicle fleets by 2025, is the regional chapter of Climate Group's global RouteZero campaign ahead of the Conference of the United Nations on Climate Change (COP-26), which will take place in Glasgow, UK, from 31 October to 12 November 2021.

About the United Nations Environment Programme

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the world's leading environmental authority. It provides leadership and encourages working together to care for the environment, inspiring, informing and enabling nations and people to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UNEP's Office in Latin America and the Caribbean launched the MOVE platform in 2016 to accelerate the transition to electric mobility in the region.


Euroclima+ is the EU's flagship programme for cooperation on environmental sustainability and climate change with the Latin American region. It aims to reduce the impact of climate change and its effects in Latin America by promoting mitigation, adaptation, resilience and climate investment.

For more information:

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