Bolivia’s auto producer Quantum to open in 2023 Mexican plant and aims to offer Mexican-made EVs for about $7,500

A company named Quantum that has already made and shipped electric vehicles including tricycles, motorcyles and automobiles within Latin America from its home base in Cochabamba, Bolivia, plans to open a plant in Mexico before the end of 2023, the company’s CEO Jose Carlos Marquez told ReutersEvents.

Image courtesy of Quantum.

“Quantum Mexico is in a process to install, adapt, and launch in the market. The plant will be opened this year with annual capacity of 500 vehicles,” Marquez said.

Preliminary plans to combine Bolivian access to lithium with the Mexican automotive and autoparts manufacturing experience were first announced by the Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard on an Aug. 5, 2022 post of a video in Twitter of himself driving a Quantum automobile through Bolivian streets.

An Americas made EV in 2024 for $7,500

“The selling price in Bolivia is about $7,500. The selling price in Mexico will also be $7,500,” Marquez said.

The intention is to build the plant “with the possibility to easily expand it in the future as needed,” Marquez added.

The new Mexican plant, to be opened this year in a country that is home to one of the world’s ten biggest vehicle assembly and autoparts industries, will compare with existing production capacity of 50 vehicles per month (600 per year) in Quantum’s main plant in Bolivia.

Polypropylene and ABS autoparts

The most popular model in the company’s product line is the E4, a small EV with an autonomy of about 62 miles between charges and maximum speed of about 37 mph.

The full charge from 0 to 100% lasts about six hours but the typical normal charge from expected low levels takes about four hours. Power can be obtained from any home electricity outlet, he said.

“For internal components we use polypropylene (…) for resistance and lightweight (…) externally (…) we use ABS, for impact resistance, shape-retaining capacity. Both last long, are lightweight, and help keep the EV costs reasonable,” Marquez said.

For the vehicles sold in Bolivia, Bolivian-made electrical parts and chassis are used. But the Mexican vehicle planned for that market will rely on Mexican parts production, he said.

In the case of Bolivia, parts “for the breaking system are adapted. We use national origin glass, tires and the battery packs are assembled by Quantum Batteries. Other parts are imported due to the small offer from the local industry,” he said.

In Mexico, “because of their rich automotive industry history, we have suppliers of high quality that would simplify logistics and allow for autoparts to be of local origin, assuring quality and technical support,” Marquez said.

Lower production cost than China?

The company aims for a Mexican-made compact electric vehicle “with a similar or even lower production cost to that of China,” Marquez said.

“This objective could be reached in the medium term throught strategic partnerships, fully standardizing all processes (...),” he said.

“The intention is to offer solutions to the congested Latin American vehicle traffic in a way that is economical for the consumer and sustainable for the environmnent,” Marquez added.

Mexico, Bolivia similarities

“The Bolivian and Mexican markets share similarities in relation to the purchasing capacity of their consumers and to vehicle prices accesible to consumers,” Marquez said.

“Both countries are implementing initiatives to promote electrical vehicles and hybrids, with fiscal incentives, re-charging programs and cargo transportation logistics development,” he said.

Both countries also have similarities “in their general road infrastructure, including street design and vehicle congestion. These factors influence the demand (…) of compact EVs in both markets,” he added.

Quantum expansion elsewhere

Industrias Quantum Motors S.A. has sought and entered alliances not just in neighboring Paraguay (to the Southeast of Bolivia), Peru (borders Bolivia to the West), but also in El Salvador, in Central America.

“The company is focused on consolidating and expanding its Latin American presence through building plants and establishing alliances with local partners,” Marquez said.

Quantum Motors is looking for different options to accelerate growth. It is considering long-term borrowing or seeking partners that may contribute capital and automotive industry experience, he added.

“From Bolivia we have exported significant numbers to Peru and Paraguay. Also, from El Salvador, we have completed shippings to other Central American countries,” Marquez said.

“The electric vehicles as well as the electric tricycles are the products that contribute in the largest way to revenue,” Marquez said. Lower prices for combustion-based motorcycles have put pressure on demand for the company’s electric motorcycles products, he said.

Advantages of Latin American electric vehicles 

“The investment in local infrastructure for the production of EVs may generate employment and economic development in each region,” Marquez said.

A challenge for a Latin American EV producer may be the lack of experience and resources in comparison with for example Chinese providers, with their large economies of scale, he added.

Work underway in Mexico will determine success, he said. “It is critical to establish strategic alliances with suppliers and distributors to increase market presence,” he said.

Cooperation with public service suppliers, installation of conveniently placed charging stations, and incentive programs for electrical vehicles could help Latin American-based EV ventures succeed, he said.

Quantum is in part inspired by what was once known as the Andino, a vehicle manufactured by Aymesa in Ecuador between 1972 and 1980, Marquez said. That Ecuadorean Andino model was meant to serve also as a pick-up truck that helped farmers and locals access a low-cost vehicle designed to meet basic needs.

Bolivia, home base of Quantum, has some of the world's richest lithium deposits.

By Renzo Pipoli