Lithium Economics

Can Bolivia produce electric vehicles? *

Oct 13, 2012

Two days ago, University del Valle at Cochabamba, Bolivia announced that in 10 months will start producing electric cars in Bolivia. This blog is about this surprising news from the country that holds the most lithium on earth.

 After more than two years of design and work, "Guanaco", Bolivia´s first electric car, was presented two days ago by the rector of the University del Valle (Univalle) at the city of Cochabamba.  The vehicle was designed and built by Universidad del Valle (Univalle) with proprietary technology, and has a capacity to transport two people and a speed of 55 kilometers per hour.

"This vehicle shows that to do research, it is not required large laboratories and prominent researchers. Everyone can be a researcher in this country and around the world," said the rector of Univalle, Gonzalo Ruiz, quoted by ABI, the government news agency.

It is an ecological car prototype; as such, it functions independently with electricity from batteries rechargeable with the simple use of a power outlet for about eight hours, explained Univalle´s technicians to Los Tiempos, a local newspaper.

The vehicle operates on regular batteries for now, but is expected to use lithium as there are proposals from Germany and Japan to collaborate with the project.  

"They have offered us to come to Bolivia, join our research team, especially in the area of lithium cells," Ruiz said.

The new batteries are expected to reduce by 80 kg the weight of the vehicle, increase its duration of use from three to four hours and diminish the recharge time from eight to four hours.

The project leader, Nelson Zenteno, said that aerospace technology was chosen for its structure which is composed of fiberglass and carbon. Almost all the technology and materials used are of domestic origin.

The steward of the initiative, Raul Gomez, stressed that the work allowed the car not to weigh more than 450 kilograms considering that has included a small engine of 3.2 horsepower, a four-speed transmission and six batteries that will give an output of 16,300 watts.

Lastly, Univalle is preparing for the initial manufacturing of ten electric cars in about 10 months and within the next two weeks will provide information on their unit cost.


* Adapted and translated from three reports published in Spanish by Los Tiempos which include some pictures of the vehicle, see: ;;

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