Home »  Electric Vehicles will reshape the Middle East

 Electric Vehicles will reshape the Middle East

by Mohammad Ghazal

The electric vehicle evolution has been a long time in coming. For years, electric vehicles have slowly gained market share as technologies have matured and costs have fallen. Globally, the growth of electric vehicles has been staggering. In 2012, only 120,000 electric vehicles were sold. In 2021, that number hit 6.6 million.

Momentum is building, and in some countries, we have already seen EVs become the most popular vehicle type amongst the public. For example, in Norway 65 per cent of new car registrations last year were battery electric vehicles. In fact, EVs can become mainstream in any country far before they hit the majority of sales. Research company BloombergNEF estimates that countries cross the EV tipping point when EV sales pass 5 per cent of overall car sales in any given year.

The question which then must be asked is what about the Middle East? The region has long been known for its love of the automobile; in fact, it is the essential means of transportation in most of the region’s countries. And yet, it is proven a task to buy an EV in most of the region. With the exception of one major brand, which has operations in Jordan and the UAE, most EVs are imported from other parts of the world.

Admittedly, there are hurdles to be overcome. Firstly, there is the issues of charging infrastructure. Investments need to be made in terms of putting in place a network of chargers that will make even the longest of journeys, say from Dubai to Jeddah, possible. There also needs to be clarity on charging costs, so people understand the cost difference between an EV and their current vehicle.

Then there is the issue of incentives. Norway’s success in popularizing EVs owes much to governmental support. The country introduced a range of policies, including tax exemptions and subsidies that covered VAT exemptions, one-off registration taxes based on emissions, lower annual ownership taxes, exemptions from road tolls and reduced parking fees.

A first step to transforming the car market has already been taken in a number of countries across MENA, with the reforming of how cars are sold. In the UAE for example, a consumer can purchase a car direct from a brand without the need to go to a dealership.

The question that remains is, “when will brands sell EVs into the region?” That question may be answered by industry locally and globally, with plans to design and build electric vehicles locally. Lucid has announced plans to assemble cars in Saudi Arabia, and the Kingdom’s first Saudi electric vehicle brand Ceer will look to make electric mobility mainstream in the Gulf.

The one outstanding issue is to engage with the public and help them better understand what EVs are like and how they will redefine mobility. In some senses, this is already happening naturally in the UAE, with the impact of rising petrol prices at the pumping pushing consumers to look for more cost-effective alternatives. But there are many other questions to address, such as range, performance (especially during Summer given the region’s high temperatures), and the cost of maintenance.

For me personally, there’s no doubt that EVs are superior to more traditional vehicles that use combustion engines. I enjoy driving my EV, and there’s a range of connectivity, safety and entertainment features that I cannot find in other cars of an equivalent cost. The promise of autonomous driving and fewer tailpipe emissions could mean safer, greener roads across the region, which is no mean feat given how many lives are lost to or impacted by automotive accidents and pollution. In many ways, the future will be more sustainable and that will be helped in part by the electric vehicles that will be driven globally, including here in the Middle East. 

By: Alex Malouf, Executive Director, Corporate Communications and Public Relations at Ceer, The First Saudi Electric Vehicle Brand

You may also like  | About Us | Careers | Privacy & Policy

 © 2024 ESG Mena