Mexico , Chile , Venezuela , Uruguay and Brazil

Hyperloop transportation projects could take off in LatAm

Bnamericas Published: Friday, July 27, 2018
Hyperloop transportation projects could take off in LatAm

Under or above-ground capsules supersonically transporting people could soon become a reality in Latin America.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), one of the many companies investing in this type of transport system conceptualized by Elon Musk, is advanced talks with some governments and private players and is currently building a research and development center for logistics in the Brazilian city of Contagem, Minas Gerais state.

First phase works at the 4,000m2 center on a 23,000m2 site were concluded in April.

The initial investment of US$7.85mn is coming from a public-private partnership that includes HTT, Minas Gerais development department, Minas Gerais industries federation and private investors.

"Brazil has a major role because that will be the place where we'll be developing all our strategy on logistics," Bipop Gresta, co-founder and deputy chairman of HTT told BNamericas this week as he visited Brazil for another check on the site and for talks with partners and public and private parties.

The company eyes mainly high-density population areas with a lack of infrastructure.

Last November, Gresta visited Brazil and met in Brasília with then transport minister Maurício Quintela to discuss potential projects. Gresta said he does not expect a change in the company's policies after Brazil's new government takes office in January.


On this new trip Gresta said he is due to visit candidates for an open innovation program the company is structuring in Contagem which should bring together companies, startups, universities, scientists and government officials to discuss solutions to Brazil logistics bottlenecks.

He said "top companies in Brazil" are interested in joining HTT's team, but did not provide details.

To better manage the initiatives, HTT has legal representation in Brazil and launched a local subsidiary. A commercial unit is being set up in Brasília and an office was opened in São Paulo.

But all that did not come without some pain. Gresta complains about the two-and-a-half months it took his company to obtain the necessary legal permits in Brazil.


While Brazil might be the global R&D headquarters for logistics, it is not the sole focus of HTT's projects in Latin America.

Hyperloop is mostly known for long distance transportation, but Gresta said it can also be applied to public transportation.

"Of course, HTT's has a maximum theoretical speed. But in reality it could slow down to use as a metro system inside the cities and then accelerate outside the cities depending on the speed profile and the design alignment."

He declined to comment on any specific such cases in the region, saying the company is in "the exploration phase" over feasibility and in discussions with different entities in South America.

Without singling out projects, Gresta said that HTT is having talks with several major governments in Latin America, including Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela, though levels of interest differ.

In a 2016 interview with BNamericas, Gresta said South America was a big focus for the company, citing interest from Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Venezuela, among others. On that occasion, he spent almost a week in Chile.

"The goal is to have in 10 years a network connecting the various states in South America and also Central America, where we are also having discussions," he said.

So how does Venezuela fit in?

"There is a high profitability in the project that interests local and international firms. We don't want to build anything. We want to be the licensing company, licensing technology for operators to manage it."

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