18.05.2021 - Transport & logistics, Smart city

First electric passenger minibuses manufactured in Latvia

The car rebuilding company SIA Electrify Ventspils has built the first electric minibuses for passenger transportation, and the reconstruction work is being carried out entirely in Latvia. The total investment in the project is 4.4 million euros, of which 1.6 million euros is a loan from the Development Finance Institution Altum for energy efficiency projects.

The first two Mercedes-Benz Sprinter minibuses have left the production sites in Jelgava and Ogre for Ventspils. The following two minibuses with 21 passenger seats will be delivered to Ventspils in the next few weeks, and the remaining ten by the end of this year.

“Latvia is becoming greener and more environmentally friendly, and it is due to the sustainable ideas of our entrepreneurs and their ability to implement ambitious plans,” says Minister of Economics Jānis Vitenbergs.

Investing in new products, especially those related to the development of climate-friendly processes, helps to create new jobs, gives a boost to the economy, and is an opportunity for our future competitiveness. To this end, the European Recovery and Resilience Facility plan provides funds specifically to promote green business.

These are the first electric minibuses to have been fully engineered in Latvia and certified for use in traffic. Minibuses adapted for passenger transportation are initially rebuilt at the factory of Jelgava company SIA Universals LTD and then equipped with an electric drive system manufactured by Latvian car engineers Andris Dambis and Kristaps Dambis (SIA eO).

“The Altum loan was a major turning point in providing the necessary working capital to increase production capacity. If previously we were producing one to two minibuses per month, then, after receiving the loan, we are working at an average capacity of five minibuses per month. It is important that with Altum’s support, we have been able to attract and sign contracts with customers in new markets,” says Agris Amoliņš, co-owner of SIA Electrify.

The financing of 1.6 million euros has been granted to Universals Electrify as part of Altum’s energy efficiency program, which is financed from the resources raised through Altum’s green bond issue, while the rest is co-financed by the borrower.

“Altum’s cooperation with Electrify is an excellent example of how Altum as a development finance institution can promote sustainable, environmentally friendly business projects,” says Reinis Bērziņš, Chairman of the Board of Altum.

He believes that the potential for such projects in Latvia is very high. By issuing green bonds, funding has been raised on the capital market for environmentally friendly business projects in a wide range of areas. The European Investment Bank has also provided funding for green projects. 

“Our clients’ projects prove that investments pay off very well, and we are ready to continue supporting companies with both funding and expertise,” adds R. Bērziņš.

To date, Altum has also issued loans for energy-efficient projects in sectors such as central heating (28%), wood processing (15%), vegetable growing (10%), sustainable transport (10%), LED lighting (8%), production of metal structures and their components (8%), electricity production (8%) and others (13%). The borrowers include micro (34%), small (41%), medium (21%), and large enterprises (2%).

CSDD data show that on 1 July 2020, there were a total of 854 electric cars in Latvia, of which eight are buses. So far, the cities of Rēzekne and Jūrmala have also started to introduce environmentally friendly public transport.

“By launching electric buses, we intend to maintain the comfortable and familiar public transport service for passengers, ensuring a high level of comfort and a short interval between runs. Passengers will benefit from quiet and environmentally friendly transport, while the city and its residents will benefit from a cleaner and quieter urban environment. Urban pollution, i. e. noise and vehicle emissions, will also be significantly reduced,” says Arvis Bernics, Director of Ventspils reiss.

On 31 January 2020, a supply contract was signed between the municipal SIA Ventspils reiss and the unlimited partnership Universals Electrify for the supply of 14 electric buses and their charging stations for passenger transport in the city of Ventspils. The unlimited partnership Universals Electrify is a joint venture between SIA Universāls LTD and SIA Electrify.

Source: labsoflatvia.com

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