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Eyeing the World Cup in 2014, government bets on hybrid bus
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Eyeing the foreign capital drawn by the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the federal government has expanded the offer of public loans to develop and manufacture hybrid buses meant for passenger transportation.

The topic was discussed by representatives from BNDES (the Brazilian Economic and Social Development Bank) and Finep (Studies and Projects Funding Agency), two institutions that provide credit lines specifically for this type of hybrid vehicle.

The presentation took place last Wednesday (7th) at the 1st Paraná Conference on Electric Vehicles, held at Itaipu’s Cineteatro do Barrageiro. The event ended last Thursday (8th) morning.

“The best way to throw money away is by pulverizing our investments among an assortment of research work. That is why we have chosen to bet on this niche [hybrid buses]”, said Laércio Ferreira, technical secretary for Energy and Biofuels at Finep, connected to the Ministry of Science and Technology. “Much like the choice by BNDES, we are also focusing on urban passenger transportation”, he added.

From 2010 to 2011, Finep increased from BRL 1 billion to BRL 5 billion the total funding for innovative projects, which include hybrid buses.
As for BNDES, the bank has at least five credit lines and programs in which electric or hybrid vehicles may fit. Some of them are the Pro-Engineering, the Technology Innovation line, and the Climate Fund.

“We understand that sports events will not end in 2016. That is why the bank is willing to join companies as a member to develop products like these [electric and hybrid vehicles]”, said Rafael Alves da Costa, from the Heavy Industry Department at the BNDES Manufacturing Division.

“In some instances, funding reaches up to 90%”, explained Costa. Rates are about 4% a year. Today, the bank is funding the development of electric engines by WEG S/A. The company will be getting support from the bank in the amount of BRL 7.5 million, equivalent to 62.3% of the total BRL 12 million investment.

Itaipu plays a decisive role in this process as well. By means of the Electric Vehicle Project, the binational company has signed a statement of intent with Eletrobras to supply six hybrid buses powered by ethanol and electricity meant to run at the World Cup and the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

In only four months, Itaipu and its partner companies developed the world’s first hybrid electric bus, whose combustion engine is powered by ethanol. The prototype was presented to former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva one year ago, at the power plant.