Strategies to accelerate the diffusion of e-mobility in Brazil: experiences and efforts based on electric energy companies

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2021)


Diffusion, Electric Mobility, energy sector, new business models, value chain


Advances in emission regulations and the effects of oil price fluctuations are forcing carmakers towards new product programs that use new technologies to increase the energy efficiency of vehicles and reduce CO2 emissions (FREYSSENET, 2013).
Among the technological paths for the automotive industry in this context, the Electric Vehicles (EVs) - Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV), Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV), are highlighted as a possible alternative technology to this mobility transition scenario.
Most trusted automotive industry forecasts argue that electric mobility will become well established in the 2030-2040 horizon (ICCT; C40, 2020; IEA, 2020; MCKINSEY & COMPANY, 2019). However, this is a transition path that is taking place slowly, gradually, and differently among countries with consolidated automotive markets and industries.
In Brazil, the e-mobility ecosystem is under construction, exemplified by the actors who are identifying their roles. The activities and projects are not defined and are being elaborated, such as the execution of pilot programs. Also, the market is still incipient, demonstrated by the still low number of around 20k of BEVs and PHEVs sold (BARASSA, 2019).
However, despite these uncertainties and the global economic challenges caused by the Covid-19, one of the main sectors that is driving efforts in the e-mobility is the Electrical Energy Sector (utilities and energy generators). A peculiarity that makes the Brazilian electric sector prone for the development of new technologies, is the law 9.991/2000 regulated by ANEEL (energy regulation agency) which established that 1% of the income of the electric companies must be invested in research and development (R&D) projects. In the context of this regulator framework, ANEEL launched a Call for projects in 2018, specifically for e-mobility projects, driving the demand for new business models and development of electric vehicle hardware, resulting in more than R$ 600 million in investments (ANEEL, 2019).
This regulation was essential to finance e-mobility projects and overcome the Covid-19 economic impacts. While many Brazilian industries had their investments affected by the pandemic, the energy companies, guided by the Strategic Call projects, were able to bypass the crisis and maintained EV investments and efforts in progress.
Focusing this discussion on the ongoing investments by the Brazilian electric sector, some questions arise: Do utilities and generators plan to go beyond R&D projects and seek to design new business models for e-mobility? What role(s) will the electrical energy sector fill in the e-mobility value chain?
The present paper explores these questions by discussing the developed strategies and actions taken by the electrical energy sector in Brazil to promote new business in the e-mobility segment (automobiles, buses, trucks, motorcycles).
Our starting point refers to understand a value chain as the set of players responsible for development, production, and trading of a product and/or services (CHRISTENSEN, 2011; GEREFFI; HUMPHREY; STURGEON, 2005; SUTOPO et al., 2013;) and what are the implications for the e-mobility case (CAPGEMINI, 2019; CHRISTENSEN, 2011; FLAMAND, 2016; KLEY; LERCH; DALLINGER, 2011; MCKINSEY & COMPANY, 2019). Based on this framework and theoretical background, our method included a combination of two strategies. Firstly, mapping and collecting secondary data on the topic of EVSE value chains through literature research (articles, theses and technical reports). Secondly, collecting secondary data regarding prominent actions by the electric sector in Brazil among August and December 2020.
The mapping exercise (Figure 1) demonstrates three main positions: (I) Energy Supply: represented by the electric energy companies, such as energy production, transmission and distribution; (II) Charging Infrastructure: referring to the EVSE and its development, commercialization, installation, operation and maintenance, (III) Add-on Services, such as online procedures and the deployment of connected charging platforms, in which startups and other information technology based companies play a major part, connecting the automotive industry to the Industry 4.0.
In a holistic approach, companies can play elastic roles in the value chain, seeking to offer different products and services for their potential clients, pursuing non-conventional business opportunities.

Figure 1. Brazilian Electric Vehicle Charging Value Chain

Source: Authors elaboration based on Capgemini (2019) framework.
Figure 2 shows a deep dive into the e-mobility activities of five electric energy companies Brazil. These utilities are providing/prospecting, not just electricity, but also other products and services, as pointed out in the value chain framework (confirming the elastic roles that can be played). In the first stage, Energy Supply, utilities focus on understanding how to leverage and increase their energy supply business, in respect to their core business, considering the growing electric vehicle demand. A bigger electric vehicle fleet demands more electricity. So, these companies want to develop business models that ensure optimal patterns to deploy infrastructure. At the Charging Infrastructure level, Enel, EDP and Engie are supported by the strategies of their global parent companies, which consists in a more verticalized approach. The companies CPFL and Copel are not engaged in EVSE production and sales, but are exploring specific opportunities offering installation and O&M services, leveraging their logistic advantages in their respective operational territories. Finally, at the Add-on services level, most companies are taking action to develop digital platforms. The annex to this paper provides a description of key actions regarding Brazilian energy companies in EV Charging Value Chain.
Figure 2 – Brazilian EV charging value chain and energy companies prospection <

Source: author elaboration based on(CANALENERGIA, 2019; COPEL, 2019; CPFL, 2020; EDPSMART, 2020; ENELX, 2020; ENGIE, 2020a, b; IPIRANGA, 2019; MAIA, 2019)
As we have shown, electrical energy companies in Brazil are taking up elastic roles in the e-mobility value chain, ranging from strategies to leverage their core businesses in energy supply and their local O&M logistic comparative advantages in the charging infrastructure, as well as developing digital platforms in order to offer add-on services. This sector, which was historically always averse to change and risk in Brazil, is moving beyond business as usual (generation, transmission and distribution of electric energy) by diversifying its portfolio and expanding its products and services offering. The main trend for utilities, is oriented on installation and maintenance of EVSE, leveraging their local logistic capabilities. However, there are examples of digital platforms being developed for fleet management, battery and charge management, well paired with the current trend of the 3 D’s of the electrical sector (decarbonization, digitization and decentralization).

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