What about Brazil? Brazilian actions regarding electric vehicles technological trajectory

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Brazil (2018)


electric vehicles, public policy, technological trajectory


What about Brazil? Brazilian actions regarding electric vehicles technological trajectory
The “electrification” of the automobile industry are gaining ground rapidly. Technical progress, social demands and environmental pressure are promoting the reconfiguration of the transport sector technological trajectory. This movement confronts the well stablished core technology of this system, represented by the internal combustion engine.
The changing landscape (GEELS, 2002) led by disruptive technological innovations, as is the case of electric vehicles (EVs), creates windows of opportunities for companies and nations, which, if well exploited, imply endogenous development cycles and establish virtuous trajectories in a "new" industry (LEE; MALERBA, 2017). The reverse is also true: not catching-up this great upturn, harvest territories and companies to a non-competitive peripheral condition.
Therefore, countries participating in the traditional automobile industry have implemented over the last 18 years a number of systematic actions (public policies) to stimulate and induce EVs segment. As a consequence, the segment of EVs is growing in some countries.
An illustrative case of the introduction of EVs is Norway, accounting for a market share of 28.76% (2016). On the other hand, countries that have large consumer markets and which have the presence of automakers have relatively smaller, but not insignificant, EVs market share: Sweden (3.4%); France (1.46%); China (1.37%); United States (0.91%) Germany (0.73%) and Japan (0.59%) (IEA-HEV, 2016; IEA, 2017).
Previous studies [see AHMAN, 2006; ZHANG et al., 2013; MOCK & YANG, 2014; LUTSEY, 2015; YUAN, 2015; TIETGE et al., 2016; YANG et al., 2016; XU & SU, 2016] argue that development and diffusion of EVs require efforts of the public sphere, through a wide array of incentives, including: subsidies, demand-side and supply support, and investments in public charging infrastructure, to make EVs more attractive to consumers. This situation confirms an important statement regarding S&T (Science and Technology) studies: new technologies claim for coordination among government and other actors (market actors and civil society, e.g.) to survive at “valley of death” and be wide spread (MOWERY & ROSENBERG, 1979; KEMP & SOETE, 1992; CHINDAMBER & KON, 1993; FREEMAN & SOETE, 2008; WALTZ et al., 2008; NEMET, 2009; MOWERY et al., 2010; MAZZUCATO, 2014). All leading countries in this trajectory have consistently implemented public policies since 2000s succeeding in advancing the insertion of EVs in their market and promoting national companies and research centers (LEVE, 2017).
Analyzing the discussion in the Brazilian perspective, some questions arise: What about Brazil? How is the Brazilian Government positioned regarding this new technological trajectory? When and what were the actions in public sphere to promote EVs in Brazil? What is the rationality of the instruments and initiatives implemented by the Government? Are there actions related to other spheres (local or regional)? The paper deals with these questions by identifing and characterizing the role of the public agent, one the key players in the process of change in the auto industry.
The research offers a historical picture of the actions implemented by Brazilian Government in the trajectory of the EVs, evidencing the characteristics of the national effort to develop the segment of EVs in Brazil.
The paper was based on three methodological procedures: 1) bibliographic review about EVs (world and Brazil); 2) search and analysis of official documents from Brazilian Government (national, regional and local levels) and; 3) operationalization of the analytical categories provided by the Typology of Public Policies to Stimulus to EVs, developed by the team of the Laboratory of Electric Vehicle Studies (LEVE) and detailed in LEVE (2017) and Oliveira Filho et al. (2017).
The typology is composed of four analytical categories: i) incentives to create local productive capacity (Production); ii) instruments that stimulate the development of S&T and/or technological learning in EVs (S&T); iii) EVs integration tools to local transport and energy systems (Infrastructure); iv) instruments to stimulate the EVs market (Consumption). In fact, the policies are constituted through a mix of instruments, with different rationalities and complementary purposes.
By mapping and analyzing the incentive actions of EVs implemented by Brazil, it was possible to reconstruct the institutional path and identify the role of the most relevant actions carried out. General characteristics of the institutional framework surrounding the development of electromobility in the country were taken in consideration and it was possible to examine weaknesses and to point out Brazil's first efforts to enter the technological route of the EVs. Figure 1 shows the main features of the national effort.
Figure 1. Synthesis of the features of the Brazilian institutional framework pro EVs.
General characteristics
* recent actions - the first initiatives are from the 2000s.
* fragmented and intermittent actions, with short duration
* lack of clear goals and objectives for electromobility
* low level of articulation and sectoral steering
* lack of focus on supporting new services and business models
* isolated activism of institutions; actions are motivated by "individual" initiatives

* predominance of actions to stimulate exploratory S&T
* research activities are carried out in academy and research institution distant from the private initiative
Production * insufficient actions to promote local production or
* insufficient incentives to promote the consumption of EVs
* insufficient incentives to promote new low emission technologies
* incentives with focus on heavy vehicles (electric buses)

* open regulation
* no regulation on recharge infrastructure pattern
* insufficient incentives for the diffusion of EVs charging infrastructure

Source: elaborated by the authors.

The paper demonstrated the existence of an institutional framework under development in Brazil, presenting properties that contrast sharply with international cases in countries that are leaders in the EVs segment. A first reason is the absence of a national consensus on EVs; in other words, Brazil has not yet decided how to position itself, to set medium / long term goals.
The paper provides recommendations for structuring a multi-stakeholder dialogue in Brazil with a view to the development of electromobility in the country. Furthermore, the paper brings information that can contribute for the design of new Brazilian public policies.
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