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Published in general news Written by July 11 2019 0

Bancolombia Unveils No-Extra-Cost, Zero-Emissions Electric-Truck Rental Scheme

Medellin-based multinational banking giant Bancolombia announced March 12, 2019 that it’s now offering companies the opportunity to rent all-electric, zero-emissions delivery trucks in Colombia’s major cities – at the same cost as conventional trucks.

The goal is to put into circulation 1,000 electric trucks over the next three years, replacing diesel- and gasoline-powered trucks that today are causing much of the air pollution in Medellin, Bogota and other major cities, according to Bancolombia’s “Renting Colombia” subsidiary.

Major companies in Colombia including Nutresa, Bimbo, Bavaria, Colombina and Éxito are already testing these electric trucks, in an alliance with Medellin-based electric vehicle marketer Auteco, according to Bancolombia.

The scheme enables both smaller and larger companies to rent rather than buy the trucks, at a cost of operation “equal to that of [trucks] with traditional gasoline or diesel combustion, so in this way overcoming the [initial purchase price] limitation” of electric trucks, according to Bancolombia.

Besides eliminating toxic particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO) emissions, the electric trucks also slash net carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions -- since most of Colombia’s electric power comes from zero-emissions hydroelectric plants.

“Launching the first [nationwide] fleet of electric trucks in Colombia responds to our commitment to do business well and sustainable,” explained Bancolombia president Juan Carlos Mora.

The electric trucks being offered are local delivery trucks rated between three to 10 tons. These are the type of trucks that are the most numerous in Colombia’s biggest cities.

Diesel-powered delivery trucks are so numerous in big cities that they cause 50% more total pollution than dump trucks, 400% more than buses and 500% more than cars, according to Bancolombia.

Hence eliminating such high-polluting vehicles would help cities including Medellin and Bogota to slash pollution that today has forced city officials to enact severe “pico y placa” driving restrictions on vehicles (depending on license-plate numbers), Bancolombia noted.

Switching just 1,000 delivery trucks to zero-emission electric power will slash CO2 emissions by 24,800 tons over three years, equivalent to the CO2-removal work of 1.5 million trees, the company noted.

The latest-generation electric trucks employ new technologies that deliver 40% more power than a conventional diesel- or gasolina-powered truck, according to Auteco.

While an electric truck will consume an anual average of 11,300 kiloWatt-hours of electricity at a total cost of COP$5 million (US$1,590), an equivalent diesel truck would consume 1,200 gallons of diesel fuel and 10 gallons of lube oils, costing a total of COP$12 million (US$3,815), or more than twice as much as the electric truck, Bancolombia noted.

Published in general news Written by July 11 2019 0

BYD Launches Electric-Car Sales Just as Medellin Toughens Air-Pollution Driving Limits

China-based electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer BYD on February 7, 2019 launched sales of zero-emissions EV cars at its first-ever retail showroom in Medellin – simultaneous with the Mayor’s office announcing new driving restrictions on polluting vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICEs) for the entire Medellin metro area.

BYD’s new dealership on Avenida El Poblado opposite the Premium Plaza mall comes on the heel of winning a contract to supply 64 pure electric buses to Medellin’s “Metro” public transit agency later this year (see Medellin Herald on December 29, 2018).

“Medellín is among the places with the greatest potential in Colombia for the development of mobility with electric vehicles,” said Juan Felipe Velásquez, BYD’s commercial director for Antioquia.

“Both the municipal administration and private companies [including EV sellers Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi] have made important bets in the development of sustainable mobility . . . The environmental contingency of the metropolitan area has caused the authorities to focus their efforts on electric vehicle replacement,” he added.

Medellin also aims to expand the fleet of EV taxis, Velasquez said. “This project is very important for us as BYD, so much so that we are structuring two electric-taxi pilot [projects] with different individual public transport administration companies, which will start in a few months,” he said.

Beyond EV cars, buses and taxis, BYD “intends to exploit a high-potential market with last-mile cargo [local delivery vehicles,” according to the company.

Meanwhile, Medellin and the regional planning agency (Area Metropolitana del Valle de Aburra, AMVA) jointly announced greater “pico y placa” restricions on more ICE vehicles over more days -- including six days/week (rather than the current five) and hitting six of the nine digits on license plates, rather than just the current four of the nine digits.

The existing “pico y placa” vehicle-driving restrictions alternately ban circulation of vehicles depending upon the final digits of license plates, during morning and afternoon rush-hours.

Under the new scheme – debuting February 18 and lasting until at least March 30 – older, higher-polluting vehicles will face even greater hours-of-operation restrictions, from 5 am to 8:30 am, and then from 4:30 pm to 9 pm Monday through Saturday, according to AMVA.

Published in general news Written by February 08 2019 0

China-based electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer BYD on February 7 launched sales of zero-emissions EV cars at its first-ever retail showroom in Medellin – simultaneous with the Mayor’s office announcing new driving restrictions on polluting vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICEs) for the entire Medellin metro area.

BYD’s new dealership on Avenida El Poblado opposite the Premium Plaza mall comes on the heels of winning a contract to supply 64 pure electric buses to Medellin’s “Metro” public transit agency later this year (see Medellin Herald on December 29, 2018). It's a further sign that Medellin aims to slash air pollution by replacing ICE vehicles with EVs of all types, including cars, motorcycles, buses,  taxis, local-delivery vehicles, rail transit, cable-cars and trams.

“Medellín is among the places with the greatest potential in Colombia for the development of mobility with electric vehicles,” said Juan Felipe Velásquez, BYD’s commercial director for Antioquia.

“Both the municipal administration and private companies [including EV sellers Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi] have made important bets in the development of sustainable mobility . . . The environmental [air-pollution] contingency of the metropolitan area has caused the authorities to focus their efforts on electric vehicle replacement,” he added.

Medellin also aims to expand the fleet of EV taxis, Velasquez said. “This project is very important for us as BYD, so much so that we are structuring two electric-taxi pilot [projects] with different individual public transport administration companies, which will start in a few months,” he said.

Beyond EV cars, buses and taxis, BYD “intends to exploit a high-potential market with last-mile cargo [local delivery] vehicles,” according to the company.

Meanwhile, Medellin and the regional planning agency (Area Metropolitana del Valle de Aburra, AMVA) on February 7 jointly announced greater “pico y placa” restricions on more ICE vehicles over more days -- including six days/week (rather than the current five) and sequentially hitting six of the last nine digits on license plates each day, rather than just the current four of the nine digits.

The existing “pico y placa” vehicle-driving restrictions alternately ban circulation of vehicles -- depending upon the final digits of license plates -- during morning and afternoon rush-hours. However, zero-emissions EVs are exempt from such driving restrictions.

Under the new scheme – debuting February 18 and lasting until at least March 30, the typical "dry" season for air-pollution alerts – older, higher-polluting vehicles will face even greater hours-of-operation restrictions, from 5 am to 8:30 am, and then from 4:30 pm to 9 pm Monday through Saturday, according to AMVA.

Published in general news Written by February 05 2019 0

Medellin-based multinational electric power giant EPM announced Tuesday, February 5, that it successfully shut the last water-intake tunnel at its giant Hidroituango hydroelectric dam, hence accelerating the planned diversion of the Cauca River over the dam’s engineered spillway by several weeks – and also enabling repairs to begin.

Temporarily, the decision means that downstream fish populations will be affected for about three days -- because the Cauca River still requires three more days to rise to the level of the engineered spillway at the top of the dam.

In a press conference, EPM general manager Jorge Londoño de la Cuesta explained that technical experts advised EPM to accelerate the closure of the water-intake tunnels in order to avoid a possible collapse of those tunnels.

Rising pressure differences between the water behind the dam and the water entering the tunnels would increase with rising water levels, threatening a potential tunnel collapse, the experts warned. Such a possible collapse would have prevented EPM from controlling water levels through the machine room, potentially wrecking the US$5 billion project and possibly endangering downstream populations.

As the last intake-gate was shut to the water tunnel, downstream water flows below the dam started falling drastically – to an estimated 35 cubic meters per second, down from around 450 cubic meters per second in recent days.

But flows should return to “summer-season” normal by next weekend (February 8-9) when the dam spillway outflow gradually restores normal Cauca River levels in the downstream area, he explained.

To reduce temporary impact on fish, EPM hired and trained 700 local fishermen to help rescue fish trapped in pools as water flow diminishes, he added.

In addition, EPM released extra water from its Porce hydroelectric dam system near Guatape, Antioquia, in order to boost river flows where the Nechi River meets the Cauca River at the town of Nechi, Antioquia, downstream from Hidroituango.

Cauca River flows have been decreasing in recent weeks because of the typically low-rainfall “summer season” of February and March. That decline in flow prompted EPM to hire local people to help rescue some 32,000 fish recently trapped in pools downstream of the dam.

Now that the final water-intake gate at the dam is closed, EPM personnel can start the process of entering the machine room, which has been flooded since last May because of an unexpected collapse in a nearby diversion tunnel. Since the dam and the spillway weren’t yet finished last year, EPM made an emergency decision to divert Cauca River water through the machine room, in order to avoid a dam collapse.

Since then, EPM and its engineering partners discovered a big hole that had opened between water-intake tunnels one and two, which lead to the machine room. The hole probably developed because of water erosion -- caused by the emergency evacuation of river water through the machine-room tunnels, according to EPM.

Now, EPM not only will have to repair damages to the machine room, but also to the water-intake tunnels damaged by erosion over the past 10 months.

The company still hopes to start-up the 2.4-gigawatt Hidroituango project by year-end 2021, which eventually would supply fully 17% of Colombia’s entire national electricity demand.

But EPM can’t be certain of the start-up schedule until it has the opportunity to inspect the damages in the machine room and the tunnels.

The city of Medellin gets nearly 25% of its entire annual budget from city-owned EPM. So, restoration and recovery of the Hidroituango project will be crucial to city finances in the coming decades.

Published in general news Written by January 22 2019 0

Colombia President Ivan Duque announced January 22 at the World Economic Forum summit in Davos, Switzerland, that Medellin just won a world-wide competition to launch the first “Fourth Industrial Revolution” research center in all of Latin America.

Over the next 18 months, the initial research projects at the center will involve artificial intelligence (AI); the so-called “internet of things;” and “blockchain” technology (used to store and transfer information in a decentralized and secure manner).

Medellin’s “Ruta N” high-tech hosting center is already involved in projects involving these three areas, along with Colombia's Universidad Nacional, ViveLab Bogotá and Alianza Caoba (Bogota), the president noted.

According to Ruta N, the center initially will focus on three work areas:

1. Increase the national government's use of artificial intelligence to combat money laundering, improve tax collections and reduce contraband. "This would open opportunities for local entrepreneurs to develop security technologies that enhance the use of data such as images, videos and sensors as probative material in criminal cases," according to Ruta N.

2. Enable the creation of technologies to improve mobility. This would include development of projects to optimize bus routes; encourage the use of public transport by improving travel times, safety and quality; reduce pollution  by increasing the use of shared vehicles; generate information in real time for public transport users to increase the movement of people; and optimize the network of local traffic lights.

3. Maintain the balance between privacy and the productive use of personal data. "One of the most interesting projects in this regard plans to use blockchain, one of the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, to organize property-appraisal archives and encourage the transparent management of data related to the value and the traceability of property ownership," according to Ruta N. 

Colombia is the first country in the Spanish-speaking world to host such a center, joining first-wave host countries USA, Japan, China and India. Israel, South Africa, United Arab Emirates and Norway are joining Colombia in this second wave, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The centers are cooperative endeavors between the private sector, government and academia, according to WEF.

According to José Manuel Restrepo, Colombia’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, the centers open new avenues to obtain “disruptive” technologies that can boost industrial efficiency and competitiveness.

“We have a challenge to create a regulatory pathway to improve the potential for accelerated development of local, regional and global technology,” Minister Restrepo added.

Medellin Mayor Federico Gutiérrez added that the Fourth Industrial Revolution research projects could trigger "exponential" economic growth, generating "equity and opportunities for all sectors of society.”

Medellin’s winning bid to host the new center came about thanks to the help of the Colombia national government, the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB), Ruta N and Agencia de Cooperación e Inversión de Medellín y el Área Metropolitana (ACI), Gutierrez added.

According to WEF founder Klaus Schwab, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will combine advanced digital, physical and biological technologies, accelerating global industrial, social and economic changes.

Published in general news Written by January 05 2019 1

Spain-based Grupo Globalia announced January 4 that its Air Europa airline subsidiary will launch three-times-a-week nonstop service between Medellin and Madrid starting June 1.

The company will employ new Boeing 787-9 “Dreamliner” jets, which can cut 40 minutes off flying time compared to competing jets on the same routes, according to Globalia.

Service to and from Medellin will be offered Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, offering new competition to Iberia’s and Avianca's existing nonstop flights between Medellin and Madrid.

Fare Comparisons

Air Europa was quoting a COP$2 million (US$626) fare for round-trip nonstop Medellin (MDE)-Madrid(MAD)-MDE for flights starting June 1. Iberia meanwhile was quoting COP$2.13 million (US$668) if including two pieces of luggage in the plane's belly, or no belly luggage (just carry-on) for COP$1,84 million (US$576) for June nonstop RT flights.

As for Avianca's June flights, it was quoting non-stop MDE-MAD-MDE (but not on same days as Air Europa nor Iberia) at COP$2,673,150 (US$848) including taxes and surcharges; fares for flights originating in Colombia  include the airport tax.

From its Madrid hub, Air Europa offers flights to 16 European destinations as well as 22 cities in Spain, according to the company.

Medellin’s international airport (Jose Maria Cordova, JMC) also offers other nonstop international flights to Miami, Fort Lauderdale, New York, Orlando, Mexico City, Cancun, El Salvador, Panama, Buenos Aires, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, plus seasonal service to Dominican Republic, Aruba and Curazao.

JMC processed 8 million passengers through its domestic and international terminals during 2018.

Published in general news Written by December 29 2018 0

The Plaza Mayor convention center -- owned by the city of Medellin -- reported this month that total events rose to 734 in 2018, up from 539 in 2017 and 480 in 2016.

Of that total, 38 events were international (up from 29 in 2017), 68 were national and 628 local, according to conventional center officials.

Having dramatically expanded its available space three years ago, Plaza Mayor additionally now offers a renovated conference/convention platform featuring “4k” high-definition video technology including “16:10” video screens that generate ultra-high-quality images for conference presentations, the center noted.

Among numerous upcoming events in 2019, Plaza Mayor will host the annual Colombiatex de las Américas textile-industry congress, the “Expofitness” show, the “”Expoinmobiliaria” real-estate industry show, the World Cities Forum (Foro Mundial de Ciudades) the International Avocado Industry Congress, the International Congress on Workplace Accident Prevention, the Colombiamoda international fashion-industry show, the semi-annual FISE electric-power industry conference, the Organization of American States Assembly and the Agrofuturo agricultural industry congress.

Plaza Mayor now receives about 1 million visitors annually and expects to continue growing, thanks to infrastructure upgrades including the soon-to-be-completed expansion of the Yellow Pavilion, according to the center.

The center also recently inked an “alliance” deal with Bogota’s main “Corferias” convention center to share events such as “Expopet 2019,” and also signed deals with IFEMA-Feria de Madrid in Spain and the KOELNMESSE convention organizer in Germany, enabling greater international participation in events held in Medellin.

Over the past 11 years, Medellin has seen 547% growth in international events, while in 2018 alone, such events brought an extra US$47.8 million in revenues to the city, according the city’s Secretary of Economic Development.

Published in general news Written by December 29 2018 0

The Medellin Mayor’s Office announced December 28 that China-based electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer BYD won a contract bid to provide 64 pure electric buses for the “Metroplus” bus rapid transit (BRT) system in Medellin.

The resulting zero-emissions bus fleet “will be one of the largest in Latin America” and the contract calls for delivery during the second half of 2019.

“After reviewing the economic, technical and financial proposals of four firms specialized in buses, Metroplús awarded the contract for the acquisition of 100% electric vehicles to the ‘Green Medellín’ consortium, made up of the Chinese company BYD Industry Company Limited and BYD Motor Colombia,” according to the Mayor’s office.

“This award, which had a projected scope of at least 55 electric buses, exceeded this figure by nine [bus] units, for a total of 64,” according to the announcement.

The new fleet will have 16 electric recharge points, 300 kilometers range and two hours required for battery recharge, according to the Mayor’s office.

Published in general news Written by December 21 2018 0

Medellin’s investment promotion agency ACI -- Agencia de Cooperacion e Inversion de Medellin y el Area Metropolitana -- reported December 21 that foreign direct investment (FDI) in Medellin so far this year has topped US$253 million, or US$11 million over ACI’s initial forecast target.

“These investment projects came mostly from Mexico, El Salvador, Italy, Venezuela, Japan, Spain, Taiwan, the United States, France and Panama and correspond to the economic sectors of tourism infrastructure, health services/life sciences, real estate, food and beverages, manufacturing and ‘fourth-generation’ [high-tech] industries,” according to ACI.

“For the development of these projects, it is estimated that 3,180 jobs were generated,” the agency added.

Meanwhile, foreign-government aid projects to Medellin – mainly from the U.S., the EU, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Canada and Japan – targeted education, security, mobility, economic development, environment, social inclusion and “peace building.” These investments topped US$17 million, or US$6 million more than ACI initially expected for 2018.

“Of a total of 1,287 projects and indications of investment intention directed towards Colombia between 2003 and 2018, the majority comes from the United States, Spain, Canada, Brazil, United Kingdom, Chile, Mexico and France, so the recommendation is to strengthen the relationship with these countries through proactive work to attract foreign investment to Medellin,” the agency added.

High-Tech Sector Leads Outlook

On a related front, ACI reported December 20 that a recent joint study by the Medellin Mayor's office and Argentina’s “PRODEM” development agency found that Medellin is becoming a major focal point for high-tech investment.

“In the last three years, the Mayor's Office of Medellín has accompanied about 119,000 people in their ideas of entrepreneurship,” according to ACI.

The joint study was the result of local officials setting a goal that Medellín should become one of the top-three “most-entrepreneurial cities” and the “capital of innovation in Latin America in 2023,” according to ACI.

The study analyzed variables including human capital, entrepreneurial education, culture, business structure, science, technology and information platform, as well as local demand, social capital, financing, local institutional support and local policies and regulations, according to ACI.

"Medellín has an ecosystem of young entrepreneurship that advances and has opportunities for improvement to make the leap towards a new, more dynamic stage,” added Hugo Kantis, director of Argentina’s PRODEM, according to ACI.

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About Medellin Herald

Medellin Herald is a locally produced, English-language news and advisory service uniquely focused upon a more-mature audience of visitors, investors, conference and trade-show attendees, property buyers, expats, retirees, volunteers and nature lovers.

U.S. native Roberto Peckham, who founded Medellin Herald in 2015, has been residing in metro Medellin since 2005 and has traveled regularly and extensively throughout Colombia since 1981.

Medellin Herald welcomes your editorial contributions, comments and story-idea suggestions. Send us a message using the "contact" section.

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