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Electric Vehicle Project seeks domestic battery
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23/05/2010

The Electric Vehicle project carried out by Itaipu Dam in partnership with the Swiss KWO and the Italian Fiat shall receive R$30 million from Finep (Financer for Studies and Projects, associated with the Science and Technology Government Department). The aid will be used to nationalize the technology for vehicle batteries. The battery currently used in the prototypes assembled in the Itaipu Center for Research, Development and Assembling of the Electric Vehicle is imported and its cost is one of the greatest barriers against the popularization of such vehicle.

The Electric Vehicle project carried out by Itaipu Dam in partnership with the Swiss KWO and the Italian Fiat shall receive R$30 million from Finep (Financer for Studies and Projects, associated with the Science and Technology Government Department). The aid will be used to nationalize the technology for vehicle batteries. The battery currently used in the prototypes assembled in the Itaipu Center for Research, Development and Assembling of the Electric Vehicle is imported and its cost is one of the greatest barriers against the popularization of such vehicle.

   

According to the Brazilian coordinator of the project, Celso Novais, the objective is to develop a national battery similar to the Swiss one called Zebra. The details of that research are not established yet though there should be two teams working on it (one from Brazil and the other one from Switzerland) during a period of two years. The Itaipu Technology Park Foundation, signatory of the project, shall be responsible for the management of the Finep’s financing. “The mastery of such technology should make the manufacturing of this vehicle even more practicable in Brazil”, Novais said.

   

The Zebra batteries used in the vehicles assembled in Itaipu are powered by sodium, nickel and cadmium. They are completely recyclable and have a range of approximately 100km with a full load, which meet the needs of urban transport (about 60km daily).

    

Mário Lúcio Ozelame, assistant of the Technical Director of Itaipu, emphasizes this is not just a project for manufacturing equipment, but also for research and technology. “Itaipu is interested in merely inducing the development of electric vehicles”, he said.

    

Itaipu´s EV project introduces another innovation: the prototypes (Palio Weekend car, Iveco truck and Mascarello bus) now have air conditioner. Previous models didn’t have such comfort because the cars showed a reduction of 10% to 15% in their performance. “We put a battery with more capacity, which made up for that decrease”, said Novais. They also found another partner to provide the air conditioning supply – Euroar, from Caxias do Sul (Rio Grande do Sul).

  

Swiss Delegation

   

A delegation of Swiss parliamentarians (two senators and three representatives) has visited Itaipu last Friday (14). According to the First Secretary of the Swiss Embassy in Brazil, Siamak Rouhani, Itaipu was the last step of a tour that included São Paulo, Campinas (SP), Lins (SP) and Brasília (DF) to get a closer look at the production chain of companies like Syngenta and JBS (cold storage plant), as well as to visit the Brazilian National Congress, the Central Bank and the Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade (MDIC).

   

“Once a year, the Swiss Parliament promotes a study trip to approach a different country in which it is interested. For the last years, their destiny has been the BRIC countries. The parliamentarians have already been to China and India. Next year, it will be Russia’s turn”, Rouhani explained.

   

At Itaipu, the delegation had the opportunity to meet the company’s social, environmental and technological projects, specially the Electric Vehicle. Pirmin Bischof said he was very impressed by the remarkable improvement the country has achieved in the last few years as well as the social and environmental awareness raised here.

  

“I haven’t found such awareness built among the Chinese. It seems to me that they are more concerned with the development itself”, he said. “Besides that, from the Swiss point of view, it seems that Brazilians are closer to our way of thinking. This way, I think there is a great potential for both bilateral agreement and partnership establishment”.

   

Swiss companies have invested approximately US$ 31 billion in Brazil lately, which makes Switzerland rank the tenth position among investors in the domestic market. Senator Urs Schwaller said that, overall, 105,000 Brazilians are employed in Swiss companies. In his opinion, the relationship between the countries, although significant, can be strengthened.
"There are many similarities between us, as the democratic political system with a bicameral legislature, and an exception in the global energy context, given the widespread use of renewable energy from hydropower plants", Schwaller said.