I spent 2013 in Santiago, Chile as a visiting scholar at the Design Lab of the Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez on a Fulbright Fellowship. During the year, I taught an undergraduate class on product design, gave twelve invited talks and presentations throughout South America (Chile, Brazil, & Colombia), and completed a research project and publication on electric mobility, vehicle sharing, and renewable energy in Chile.
My research at the Design Lab was focused on analyzing the viability of vehicle sharing and electric mobility in the Santiago Metropolitan region using spatial and territorial analysis to identify opportunities for intervention. Using GIS data obtained from sources such as the Chilean census, household transportation surveys, and geocoded data from Chilectra, the local electricity utility provider, I conducted an assessment of existing EV charging station accessibility and data-driven placement of new mobility hubs. The results of the research identify a number of opportunities for intervention and outline an implementation strategy for a pilot program of shared electric vehicles in the Santiago Metropolitan Area, potentially the first car-sharing program in South America. My in-depth overview of the accessibility study and implementation plan was published as a chapter in 2014 in Electric Vehicle Business Models: Global Perspectives, a compendium of international case studies on EV deployment that resulted from an International Energy Agency Task Force. The abstract of the paper is below:
Santiago de Chile has one of the most extensive and functional metro and bus networks in South America, yet the city is laden with extreme urban congestion and pollution. In this emerging market, where the private vehicle ownership rate is increasing at nearly 7% annually, electric mobility and vehicle sharing have the potential to significantly mitigate the severe pollution and congestion. However, the high cost of electric vehicle (EV) ownership is far out of reach for the typical Chilean family, whose average net-adjusted disposable income is less than half of the OECD average. This paper proposes an EV sharing ecosystem that creates the opportunity to distribute the high capital cost of EVs across multiple users. In a nation with limited policy incentives for electric mobility, vehicle sharing and strategic partnerships in the private sector involving mining companies, energy providers, automotive OEMs, and research institutions can enable the broader adoption of hybrid and battery electric vehicles. Strategies and recommendations for enabling electric mobility in this emerging but economically divided context are proposed.
Major External Press Coverage
- The Fulbrighter (Fulbright Newsletter): “Vehicular Congestion in Santiago is a Matter of Urgent Study” (Spanish)
- Embassy of the USA in Santiago, Chile: Dimension Internacional: “Shared, Electric Mobility in Santiago” (Spanish Radio Interview)
- UAI Noticias: “Praveen Subramani dictó charla “La Cuidad Receptiva: Diseño para un mundo en rápida urbanización” (Spanish)
- Diario Catarinense: “Smart Cities Technologies Offer Solutions to Urban Challenges” (Interview in Portuguese)