Bolivian EVs

Bolivia's Quantum Motors produces the country's own electric vehicles.

Industrias Quantum Motors is a Bolivian automotive company which manufactures and sells electric cars, scooters and bicycles. 

A local technology specialist and a consultant for international organisations told us, “The production of these cars is a great achievement for the country because we have never managed to have a heavy industry with high technological intensity. It is necessary to emphasise that the cars are entirely assembled in Bolivia but the batteries are imported. They have suppliers from China, Taiwan and South Korea.” 

“The production of these cars is a great achievement for the country because we have never managed to have a heavy industry with high technological intensity.”

Technology specialist and consultant, Bolivia

Quantum will start exporting its Quantum E4 vehicle to Venezuela, Chile and Paraguay. The company also plans to expand its exports to Peru and Central American countries. Quantum aims to make Bolivia a geopolitical hub for electro-mobility due to the country’s easy access to clean energy, abundant lithium reserves, cheap labour and its central geographic position in the Andean region. 

The technology specialist told us, “Production capacity is currently low due to the relatively low investment. Although by Bolivian standards it is significant, for the automotive industry, it is nothing. But they are expanding. They are opening offices in Paraguay and they also want to open offices in northern Chile and Brazil. They are doing better than they expected because it is not a cheap car.

An automotive specialist confirmed, “The price is similar to that of a Chinese car that is larger and already carries 4 passengers. The Quantum car is for a specific demographic, more hipster, more millennial, so they can charge more because it’s ‘cool’.”

“The Quantum car is for a specific demographic, more hipster, more millennial, so they can charge more because it’s ‘cool’.”

Automotive specialist, Bolivia

Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos (“YLB”), the state-owned company that develops the country’s lithium deposits, has started providing the company with a small number of batteries for Quantum’s vehicles, following the arrival in office of President Luis Arce. Quantum expects to benefit from Arce’s proposed national lithium industrialisation strategy, which includes a plan to build 41 factories which would allow the whole production chain of electric batteries to take place in Bolivia. 

However, Bolivia and Latin America’s electric vehicle industry is still in its nascent stages of development. In addition to government support with production, companies like Quantum require further incentives which include exemptions and discounts on sales, lower environmental and import taxes and restrictions for polluting vehicles. Furthermore, financing costs remain high and infrastructure to service electric vehicles is still insufficient throughout most of Latin America. 

For the director of an accelerator with international financing, “Quantum needs electric charging infrastructure to grow. As Bolivia is looking to manufacture smart lithium-ion batteries, it has to consider installed infrastructure until it gains market share for its innovations. An electromobility diplomacy effort focused on deploying a regional standard for charging infrastructure should help to manage the challenge.”

“Luis Arce, from the first month of his mandate, has publicly supported this company. I do not doubt that it is for political gain, but it is has helped the company too.”

Technology specialist, Bolivia

It is helpful for the company to have the unexpected support of the government, the technology specialist confirmed, “Luis Arce, from the first month of his mandate, has publicly supported this company. I do not doubt that it is for political gain, but it is has helped the company too; he visits them, takes photos with them and then there is a state propaganda campaign that the MAS is industrialising Bolivia. But the good thing for the company is that this is having an impact on support. They will have cooperation with YLB although it is not clear in what and recently the government approved a supreme decree to free electric cars from certain taxes.

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