The EV paradox in Saudi Arabia

The EV paradox in Saudi Arabia

The EV paradox in Saudi Arabia
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Saudi Arabia is an auto nation. There are more than 6 million cars on the roads, nearly all of which are conventional, gas-powered vehicles. Around nine in 10 daily trips in Saudi Arabia are made in private vehicles.

From an environmental perspective, the scale of change that is needed is quite huge, especially considering that passenger cars account for about 15 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions, which drive negative climate change. We need to increase the very low number of electric vehicles in Saudi Arabia from the current 70,000 to a much higher number.

The shift to electrified mobility aligns strongly with Saudi Vision 2030, a benchmark strategic roadmap that prioritizes sustainability and technological advancement to foster a thriving economy and society while safeguarding the environment and natural resources. 

In terms of sheer volume, Saudi Arabia is poised to become the biggest electrified mobility market in the Middle East. This prospect was further solidified with the entry of the world’s new energy vehicle or NEV manufacturer, BYD, into the country. Through local partners like us, five electric and hybrid BYD models are available in the country today, each model addressing diverse customer requirements and budgets. 

We see great opportunity for BYD here. According to our Ipsos survey, 62 percent of Saudi consumers like the futuristic design and advanced technology of BYD. 

But how do we get drivers to make the switch? How can we persuade them that EVs are the best option while the charging infrastructure across the Kingdom is still limited? 

Trying to answer these questions unearths an EV paradox in Saudi Arabia. There is great enthusiasm and excitement about EVs, but people aren’t buying them. Yet.

However, change is coming quickly, with more green mobility options and awareness within the country. 

One of the factors that will drive further adoption is alleviating the “range anxiety.” The target set within Vision 2030 is to establish a robust EV charging network and deploy over 5,000 fast chargers in more than 1,000 locations throughout the Kingdom, which will go a long way in dismantling the range barriers.

Returning to the EV paradox, the enthusiasm of car buyers toward EVs was highlighted in a recent survey carried out by Google. It found that 81 percent of car buyers considered buying an electric car but only 8.6 percent went through with the purchase. As car and charging options expand, we can expect this proportion to skyrocket.

The same survey found that 45 percent of new car buyers are first-time buyers. And this rises to 59 percent of new luxury car buyers. Some 77 percent of these people said they just wanted to buy one and were influenced by marketing rather than needing to replace their existing car. They also really like the latest technology. Saudi Arabia is full of young, affluent people with disposable cash, for whom EVs can be highly attractive!

We see huge opportunities in Saudi Arabia.  We can remain a proud auto nation, just with cleaner, more technically advanced cars on our roads. 

  • Hasan Nergiz is managing director of Al-Futtaim Electric Mobility Co.


Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point of view